The FCC last week implemented new rules designed to fast track the cable franchising process. In essence, the action places a 90-day limit on the amount of time a municipality can take to reject or approve a television franchise application from a phone company that already has facilities in a city-owned right of way.
Passed in December by a vote of three-to-two, the FCC's rule package is expected to ease the regulatory burden on telcos such as Verizon and AT&T as they deploy new fiber-optic broadband and video networks.
"Telephone companies are investing billions of dollars to upgrade their networks to provide video," FCC chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement. "As new providers began actively seeking entry into video markets, we began to hear that some local authorities were making the process of getting franchises unreasonably difficult, despite clear statutory language."
He cited cases where local authorities sat on applications for over a year or demanded that applicants build swimming pools or recreation centers in order to get a franchise.
Nine U.S. states have already passed statewide video franchising legislation that streamlines the application process.