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Witness Testimony of Kyle McSlarrow, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, President and Chief Executive Officer

National Cable and Telecommunications Association
Washington, DC.
April 16, 2008

The Honorable Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Chairwoman
The Honorable John Boozman, Ranking Member
House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs
Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
335 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC  20515

Dear Chairwoman Herseth Sandlin and Ranking Member Boozman,

On behalf of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), thank you for inviting the cable industry to comment on H.R. 3298, the 21st Century Servicemembers Protection Act

NCTA is the principal trade association for the cable television industry in the United States, representing cable operators serving more than 90 percent of the nation’s cable TV households and more than 200 cable program networks. The cable industry is the nation’s largest broadband provider of high speed Internet access after investing $110 billion over ten years to build out a two-way interactive network with fiber optic technology. Cable companies also provide state-of-the-art digital telephone service to millions of American consumers.

The cable industry strongly supports H.R. 3298 which would ensure that military personnel who receive orders to deploy for military action or for a change of permanent station are given the absolute right to terminate contracts for telephone service, multichannel video service, Internet access or any utility without penalty, and to receive a refund for any services paid in advance.  This legislation addresses one of the many financial issues faced by military personnel when they are deployed or mobilized. Military personnel should have the right to cancel or suspend service contracts when they are called to leave their homes and families to defend our nation.  Quite simply, our troops should not be obligated to pay for services they will not be using while they serve our country, nor should they face penalties such as early termination fees during deployment.

We also believe the measure could be strengthened to ensure that all providers of multichannel video service and all providers of Internet access service, as defined under existing law, are covered by the bill.  In that regard, we would recommend the following clarifying language—

  • On page 2, beginning on line 9, strike “cable or satellite television service” and insert “video programming service provided by a multichannel video programming distributor (as such term is defined in section 602(13) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 522(13))”.
  • On page 2, line 10, strike “internet service,” and insert “Internet access service (as such term is defined in section 231(e)(4) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 231(e)(4))”.

Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to express our support for H.R. 3298.  We applaud your leadership on this issue, and we commend Reps. Patrick Murphy and Tim Walz for introducing this important legislation which recognizes the commitment and sacrifice of our brave and heroic military personnel.

Sincerely,

Kyle McSlarrow
President and Chief Executive Officer