The Telecom Competitive Market Regulation Reform (SF 763/HF 1066) passed in the Senate yesterday. There were no questions. The vote was unanimous.
You can read the text of the bill.
The bill is in reaction to so many different industries (cable, wireless) competing with traditional telecommunications companies to provide phone and broadband service to end customers without having to adhere to the same regulations.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune published notes from Attorney General Lori Swanson and the Minnesota Telecommunications Alliance on their views of the bill earlier yesterday…
The bill’s advocates say less regulation would allow them to stay competitive with newer technologies.
Attorney General Lori Swanson said the proposal that’s being pushed by telecommunication companies would “eviscerate” 100 years of state law protecting consumers, including a requirement that phone companies provide access in far-flung rural areas.
“We’re very concerned that they’ll just drop people who are too expensive to serve,” Swanson said. “And we’re very concerned that if they don’t drop you, they’ll say, ‘Great, it will be $250 a month.'”
The bills are opposed by former Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey and Mike Hatch, who called it a “metro-centric” bill that would hurt the elderly and the poor.
Minnesota Telecom Alliance President Brent Christensen said he views the proposal more as re-regulation than deregulation. The bills would change the threshold under which landline phone companies are required to provide service and remove some price caps.
“That would allow incumbent carriers to be regulated the same as their competitors if they pass a competitive test,” Christensen said. “It’s a really, really small step.”