FCC: No Cable Access for Internet Ventures

The Federal Communications Commission has turned down an appeal by a California-based Internet service provider hoping to piggyback its services on local cable television lines. Internet Ventures, Inc. had tried to exploit what it saw as a loophole in cable-access law that might have let the company use unallocated bandwidth for its Internet service.

Similar to laws that require commercial broadcasters to dedicate a few hours each week to public service announcements, federal regulations require cable-TV systems offering at least 16 channels to set aside some channels for unaffiliated programmers. Internet Ventures argued that, because Internet users can watch streaming video, the company was entitled to use the available cable bandwidth for its own services.

The FCC roundly trounced that line of reasoning on Friday, February 18, ruling that existing law makes room on cable systems for broadcasters, not ISPs. Internet Ventures president Don Janke was understandably upset that his play for a free ride was blocked: "From the start, our campaign has been a true David-and-Goliath story," he said. "Unfortunately, David had only to deal with Goliath, not with the FCC."