Today in Virginia, Cable companies face intense competition in the telecommunications market from Verizon, DirecTV, DISH Network and CenturyLink. In light of this competition, legislative and regulatory policies must be technology neutral. These equitable policies will further spur investment and deployment. Federal law prohibits local governments from granting exclusive franchise rights to one cable provider. As a result of this competition, a wide array of new services – both video and non-video – are available to consumers over several alternative broadband platforms, including cable, telephone, wireless and satellite.
A world-changing product of American ingenuity, the internet is a transformational technology that has revolutionized education, commerce, healthcare and communications. The cable industry has consistently endorsed and fostered the development of an open internet. The cable industry does not and would not block our customers’ ability to access lawful Internet content, applications or services.
Pole attachment fees are payments made to utility pole owners by broadband providers for attaching plant infrastructure to utility poles. Virginia code §56-41.1 states joint use of poles should be encouraged to the maximum extent possible. Electric cooperatives are preventing rural Virginians from accessing broadband technology by using their monopoly position to charge broadband providers outrageously high rates to use their poles. Electric co-op rates are unregulated and, in some cases, their rates are as much as five times higher than the regulated rates charged by traditional investor-owned electric utilities like Dominion and AEP.
Cable companies, like many businesses, want a regulatory environment to be narrow and to encourage equitable competition. When deciding how to maximize capital investment, cable systems located in states with stable business and regulatory environments are trusted investments. This includes a stable political climate as well. The Commonwealth must avoid excessive and unnecessary regulations that impede innovation and competitiveness. A stable business climate spurs investment, deployment and job creation.
The cable industry is prohibited from applying for grants offered by the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Revitalization Commission. Grants are available to local governments and nonprofits only. The cable industry supports sensible and targeted government initiatives designed to spur broadband deployment in unserved areas of the country where absent some help, no private party would find it viable to build a high-speed broadband network.
Fair and predictable taxes are essential to keeping Virginia as the best state to do business. The cable industry supports a revenue system for the Commonwealth that is equitable and broad-based, fosters a favorable business climate and encourages economic development.
Virginia’s population continues to grow leading to greater congestion on our roads. Offering employees the option of telecommuting is one way to reduce traffic congestion. Cable is the largest provider of broadband services in Virginia.
The Universal Service Fund was created by the FCC in 1997 as mandated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The goal of the fund is to advance the availability of services to low-income, insular, high-cost and rural areas.
Cable theft is the illegal interception of cable programming services without the express authorization of, or payment to, a cable company. Cable operators take theft of services seriously, not only because thieves are taking services that they should be paying for, but because individuals who steal services affect legitimate paying subscribers who expect and appreciate the quality products and services that Cable provides.