Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Telecom Reform Bill Introduced: Incumbent Providers Thrilled

from the reform-for-who? dept

Senator John Ensign of Nevada, who is currently facing accusations of sponsoring a bill to help Southwest Airlines almost immediately after the chairman of Southwest donated money to his campaign, is making a ton of news today for introducing a sweeping telecom reform bill that would dismantle most of the much maligned Telecom Act of 1996. There's some good and some bad in the bill, but it's basically giving incumbents everything they could hope for, which is why it's not at all surprising that they're absolutely thrilled by the bill. It would get rid of all local and state franchising for any video offering -- which, probably does make sense. It would also remove requirements for line sharing -- which has pros and cons, but probably isn't as big an issue as some are making it out to be. The bill would also ban muni broadband efforts, which, as we've described repeatedly, is a pointless and silly regulation. If other providers adequately provided broadband service there would be no need for muni-broadband. Banning muni-broadband is basically admitting that incumbents are doing a bad job of providing service to certain communities -- but don't want to be forced to improve. While it's good to get some discussion going on reforming telecom, it seems like this bill is weighted too heavily in favor of big incumbents, rather than in improving overall competition across the market. Either way, it seems unlikely that it will get very far this year.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2005 @ 1:28pm

    A minor comment about Muni BB

    In my little home town up in Canada, the local TV system is owned by the city: its maintenance is part of one's property taxes, I believe, and people deal with it as yet another utility like the power and the water.

    In town, we have the usual badly-run DSL offering by the former gov't telecom system which is now a verifiably evil monopoly, but we also have two competing cable companies.

    Two. And they're both doing very well, even if they do need to compete with one another. They compete mostly on features while watching one another's pricing Over the Fence, and the biggest thing they both ensure they can do is a fast switchover.

    I think it's proof, anyway, that muni BB *must* be economical and beneficial. If we can leverage a usable and competition-friendly Cable BB system out of our highly corrupt little municipal TV station, then even without the pork-fat lubrication one should be able to duplicate our efforts in Seattle, Austin, Nashua or East Brunswick.

    Sorry. Frustration got the better of me. I know why it's not happening in the States, but the idea that a bunch of greedy yokels can set up something that the City of Seattle can't is just disappointing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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