(via Bob McCannon from the ACME Discuss List)

HB 5895 & SB 1157 Deprive Michigan Cities and Consumers

AT&T SAYS: It is not looking to rob municipalities of “local control” and is committed to remaining sensitive to municipal interests.
FACT: Then why not sign a local franchise agreement? If AT&T is looking for a streamlined process that allows it to enter the market quickly, all it has to do is apply for a franchise agreement. AT&T can be up and running in a matter of days.

AT&T SAYS: It is eager to enter the video market and offer a competitive alternative to the local cable company.
FACT: Then why not sign a local franchise agreement? More than 200 cities, villages, and townships across Michigan have extended invitations to AT&T to invest in their communities by signing a franchise agreement. To date, AT&T has not responded to a single invitation!

AT&T SAYS: It is in their best interest to serve as many customers as possible.
FACT: Then why not sign a local franchise agreement? AT&T’s video deployment plans are highly “selective” — i.e. discriminatory. AT&T has bragged to Wall Street that it would serve 90% of “high value” customers and only 5% of what it calls “low value” customers, which are households that spend less than $110 a month on communications.

AT&T SAYS: It promises not to discriminate so “build-out” requirements are unnecessary.
FACT: Then why not sign a local franchise agreement? The record shows the big phone monopolies break their promises. In the 1990s, AT&T, formerly Ameritech, formed a cable company and received franchise agreements in more than 40 Detroit-area communities but did not seek franchises in Detroit, Hamtramck, Pontiac, Highland Park, Ecorse or Inkster, which is surrounded by communities where it obtained franchises. If AT&T is not planning to engage in redlining, then AT&T would not be objecting to the non-discrimination and build-out requirements Congress has already established. AT&T should not seek to change a law it plans to obey.

AT&T SAYS: It is committed to the ongoing delivery of public access channels.
FACT: Then why not sign a local franchise agreement? AT&T’s special legislation does not guarantee that these channels will be administered or funded in the ways that meet your community’s growing needs into the future.

AT&T SAYS: Michigan municipalities have given cable companies a monopoly.
FACT: Then why not sign a local franchise agreement? The question is not WHETHER there should be competition. The question is HOW companies should compete. We believe that competition should take place on a level playing field with everyone abiding by the same rules. We believe like services should be treated alike. Most importantly, we believe competition should reach EVERYONE, not just a select few.

Joseph A. Fivas, JD, MPA
Assistant Director of State Affairs
The Michigan Municipal League
Office: (517) 485-1314
Cell: (517) 230-7007
Fax: (517) 372-7476

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