The National Cable Television Assn. is asking the FCC to postpone action on a proposal allowing telephone companies to provide cable TV service in cities with up to 10,000 people.

Federal rules bar telcos from providing cable service in locales with more than 2,500 residents.

The NCTA claimed in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission this week that it has learned the agency is considering expanding the rural telco exemption to cities with up to 10,000 people.

Acting NCTA prez Decker Anstrom said in a missive to the FCC that it’s “inconceivable” the FCC would “take an action at this time that would harm the very cable companies that have delivered cable TV service to less populated communities in this country.”

Anstrom claimed that cable service is “already available in more than 98% of the 5,000 additional communities that would be covered” by the new rule.

Expanding the rural telco exemption “puts the FCC in the position of favoring one competitor, the local telephone company, in communities in which more than one-third of all Americans live,” said Anstrom.

Some cable operators may not survive if telcos are permitted to compete in smaller cities, Anstrom said.

Anstrom asked the FCC to consider postponing a decision on the matter “until a more complete record is assembled and the cable-telco landscape is more clearly perceived.”

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