EDITORIAL: Measure frees firms to invest in broadband
Feb 11, 2013 (Messenger-Inquirer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Republican Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville is again attempting to bring Kentucky's telecommunication's laws out of the dark ages.
Hornback is sponsoring Senate Bill 88 or what's officially being called the New Economy Communications Act.
The bill would essentially free phone carriers such as AT&T, Windstream and Cincinnati Bell from the mandate of hooking up basic service for new customers.
Locally, we're familiar with AT&T, which provides landline, cell and broadband services.
There was a time when AT&T was a monopoly and the law was put in place to regulate the telephone company and ensure anyone who wanted basic phone service had access to it. That involved running expensive copper wiring on the company's dime no matter where a person lived.
But now people are running away from landlines in droves. Currently, more than one-third of all Kentucky's households are wireless-only, a figure that will only increase as more generations grow up with it.
By keeping the law as is, phone carriers are forced to invest in old technology and install service to residents at no charge.
No other private company or government agency is obligated to provide the means for a service for free. It would be the same as asking the county to run a waterline to someone's home no matter where he or she lived or how many feet it was from the road while eating the cost.
Opponents are calling SB 88 "the bill to end basic phone service." Or that it will become more costly to those with fixed and low incomes.
Both are just scare tactics.
For one, AT&T would still serve any customers who currently have an existing landline.
Secondly, the bill contains a provision that protects rural areas with fewer than 5,000 landlines from being disconnected.
And thirdly, there are more than 100 communication companies in the state that provide the competition that wasn't there in the past.
Modernizing Kentucky's telecommunication law would help answer the demand for expanding, improving broadband and cell phone services for the citizens -- no matter where they live.
And by passing Hornback's bill, phone carriers would no longer be held hostage by old laws that prevent them from investing in Kentucky and advancing communications infrastructure throughout the commonwealth.
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