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December 27, 2006

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Eilsel Yagupam

AT&T's views on net neutrality is tied up to its long-term plans, i.e., they sincerely believe that centralized video content correlates with business opportunities in the future.

chris witteman

These are the same arguments that we made to the California Supreme Court in 1985 or thereabouts, in Witteman v. Jack Berry Cable TV.

Essentially, we argued that Cal Govt Code 53066, which allows cable television to use public utility easements, was unconstitutional because it worked a taking of the underlying property owner's interest - the homeowner (or his predecessor) had only granted an easement for public utility -- i.e., common carrier -- purposes, and not for any and all communication interests that may use wires. Thus, the use of those easements by non-common carrier cable (see 1984 Cable Act) was outside the scope of the easement.

We lost. A year after accepting our case for review, and after 3 members of that court were removed by an insurance company-funded initiative, the Cal Supreme Court summarily dismissed review as "improvidently granted."

The irony is that a common carrier regime was originally proposed by the Nixon administration for cable television, but never adopted. And when we talk about network neutrality that is essentially what we're talking about - a common carrier system.

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