Supreme Court sides with cable companies

June 27, 2005 at 2:17 PM

WASHINGTON, June 27 (UPI) -- The top U.S. court ruled 6-3 for the cable industry in a case that could have forced it to open its infrastructure to competing Internet service providers.

The decision, which reverses a lower court ruling, comes after Santa Monica, Calif.-based ISP Brand X sued the Federal Communications Commission for access to broadband networks.

The case marked a victory for the White House and the FCC, which had defined cable broadband as an "information service" -- a definition that, under agency guidelines, frees cable companies of regulations that would require operators to share their networks with competitors, including ISPs like Brand X.

Brand X had argued that cable networks should be regulated like phone lines, which, because they handle telecommunications service, fall under different rules that require carriers to allow competing services to use their networks.

While consumers will not see any major effect from the decision, Brand X supporters believe it will serve to limit choice and raise prices in the future.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion. The dissenting justices were Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Antonin Scalia and David Souter.

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