WASHINGTON, DC: The relentless lobbying by US telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications has paid off with this week's announcement that the Federal Communications Commission has lowered the bar that hitherto hindered the telco titans from bulldozing into local broadband and video markets.

The decision to liberalize the rules was shoehorned through on partisan lines, the three Republican members of the five strong commission voting in favour; the Democratic duo voting against.

Prior to the FCC's decision, the likes of AT&T and Verizon were compelled to negotiate their licenses with local government, region by region - a time and dollar consuming obligation.

However, the new rules require local authorities to decide on a franchise application within ninety days; if they exceed that period, the license will be deemed granted.

Complains Democratic commissioner Jonathan Adelstein: "The sum total here is an arrogant case of federal power riding roughshod over local governments."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff