Since When is Getting Reamed a Benefit?

I think people portray this as a cable versus telco issue to make it sound like it's just a "bidness as usual" bill, instead of the anti-consumer, anti-municipality, anti-industry measure it is.

So, you can imagine my irritation when I got the franked mailing from State Rep. Elliot Naishtat, an otherwise very good guy, that summarized the Texas telecom reform as follows:

One of the most heavily-lobbied issues was telecommunications. Passed in the second special session, the "telecom" legislation gives companies such as SBC and Verizon the ability to obtain statewide franchises to offer video services. Predictably, cable TV companies opposed the bill. It is anticipated that consumers will benefit from more choices among video providers.

Yes, Rep. Naishtat, consumers will benefit. They will benefit from higher basic phone rates, loss of consumer protections for video services, loss of anti-redlining protections, loss of local franchising authority and the benefits it brings.

The funny thing is that I'm not really that disappointed that Rep. Naishtat voted for this bill. The might of the SBC lobby is such that it would be political suicide to do otherwise. I'm very disappointed, though, he chose to misrepresent this bill as anything but a big, sloppy wet kiss for the telephone companies.

Comments

Comments have been closed for this entry.

re: Since When is Getting Reamed a Benefit?

More about telecom issues at:

http://www.viewerschoice.org

re: Since When is Getting Reamed a Benefit?

Interesting column in today's Miami Herald. Thought it might be of an interest...

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/13553457.htm

Posted on Thu, Jan. 05, 2006

TECHNOLOGY
Help Hispanics get access to broadband, video choices

BY HECTOR M. FLORES
www.lulac.org

In 2006, Congress will set out to rewrite the nation's telecommunications
laws. And if federal lawmakers get it right, Hispanic Americans, and
consumers generally, could have much to celebrate. But if lawmakers misfire,
the digital divide could explode into a digital abyss.

Technologically, we are now at the point where at least two companies are
likely to be competing in your community to offer you the ''triple play'' of
television, telephone and high-speed Internet services. There are outdated
rules that stand in the way of phone companies providing cable services, and
of cable companies providing phone services. Congress should find ways to
remove those barriers, but Congress must also preserve those rules to ensure
that this great new competition is available to everyone, and not just the
wealthy.

Various existing government requirements on telecommunications providers are
not only unnecessary but counterproductive. We need to streamline or
otherwise eliminate unnecessary red-tape imposed by state and local
governments in deciding whether an otherwise qualified company should be
permitted to get into the phone or cable business. ''Mother, may I'' is
truly bad policy in this technologically dynamic era.

But that is not to say that there is no role for government in ensuring that
important social goals are met. For example, any company that wants to
compete in the voice-telephone business should be required to contribute to
the Universal Service Fund (to ensure affordable phone service in remote and
low-income areas), to offer emergency 9-1-1 services and to offer services
for the hearing impaired such as Telephone Relay Service. There is reason
for concern, as many companies that offer Voice over Internet Protocol
(VoIP) services are trying to evade these obligations. These requirements
apply to incumbent phone companies, and they should apply to new competitors
as well.

Similarly, companies willing and able to accelerate the expansion of
broadband and video choice and to deploy alternative types of technology to
provide more options for relevant content to the Hispanic community should
do so in a nondiscriminatory manner. As Congress considers updating our
nation's telecom laws, it should do so by creating a national broadband
policy with a legislative and regulatory framework for the rapid,
nondiscriminatory deployment of video services to every neighborhood to
ensure that the process is competitive and fair. In short, any reform must
ensure that Hispanic neighborhoods get access to these new services as
quickly as non-Hispanic neighborhoods.

Streamlining the franchising process, while keeping in place the federal
prohibition of discrimination that currently applies with respect to cable
for new competitors, will help spur competition and ensure that broadband
networks are widely deployed to the widest possible geographic area.

For Hispanics the stakes are especially significant because only one in
eight are experiencing the digital fast lane known as broadband. And study
after study shows that broadband usage is a predictor of educational
advancement and educational attainment.

We all stand to benefit most from the innovative services and lower prices
that competition will bring. Yet, we want the big telephone and cable
companies to duke it out for our business -- for everyone's business. That
is not too much to ask as the fastest growing demographic of Internet users.

Hector M. Flores is president of the League of United Latin America
Citizens, the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the United States.