February 6, 2013

Hornback Introduces Telephone Deregulation Bill

After introducing a bill in 2012 that would have deregulated Kentucky's telephone industry, Republican Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville, reintroduced a bill which he believes should alleviate concerns over the prior bill, which he withdrew when some community groups opposed it.

In a news conference Tuesday morning, Hornback said there are new provisions in the bill which should take care of the major concerns addressed over the original bill.

Most opposition has been over the possibility phone carriers servicing rural areas with land line phones would remove the unprofitable service in smaller, rural communities.

Provisions in the new bill would not allow that to happen in regard to basic services in communities using less than 5,000 land lines.

Per Senate Bill 88, a carrier wouldn't be allowed to remove the base land line phone service unless another provide offered one that was close to being the same phone service.

Under current state law, phone companies are required to provide basic land-line service in the regions they serve.

Also included in the bill is areas with over 5,000 existing land lines, the bigger carriers wouldn't have to provide basic services to new customers. The idea there appears to be to attempt to bring the rural regions more into the modern age of telecommunications.

"There has to be competition in that market," Hornback said.

Other supporters of the bill assert states that have embraced the same type of legislation have seen corporations invest in high-speed Internet infrastructure, helping to improve the rural communities they operate in.

Hornback says the major complaint he receives from his constituents is the lack of high-speed Internet in the area. He says if phone companies have to maintain unprofitable land lines, they won't invest in high-speed Internet.

At issue is the rural areas which primarily use land line phones don't get great wireless connection, so they continue to rely on land line phones as the chief way of communicating. High-speed Internet would deal with that issue, providing another option of communication; specifically through digital phones included with some cable packages.

It's puzzling as to the opposition to this, because the results over time will far surpass the dismal land line phones now in use.

Some Luddite elements are in play, particularly from the Democrat-controlled house. This is a no-brainer, and with protections in place, lay the foundation for better rural communities that will be improved from the new Internet infrastructure that would inevitably be put in place.

As long as there are no options to land line phones, these communities will be trapped in a old technology that the rest of the United States and world have been long embracing.

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