Thursday, April 19, 2007

State franchise bills make digital redlining public policy

If telephone and/or cable companies are pushing legislation to create a state-based broadband franchising regulatory scheme in your state, most likely there's a provision in the bill that requires them to serve only half of their customers six years after the law takes effect.

If the provision's in there, your state is about to be partitioned into two halves: one half will have access to high speed Internet and other advanced digital services while the other half won't. And despite language giving lip service to the notion that state franchising laws will speed broadband deployment, there are typically no incentives in the bills to reward telcos and cable companies to do so. Just the opposite: these bills have a built in stalling mechanism to hold off deployment to large areas over the next six years and leave the future uncertain beyond that. The franchise bills also contain another fallacy: that statewide franchises will spur competition that's good for consumers. Not true. There is no meaningful competition with a duopoly of incumbent telcos and cable providers and in many areas, a monopoly where consumers can get digital services from either the telephone or cable company, but not both.

Here's the latest example from Tennessee, where AT&T is supporting an amendment to that state's franchise legislation incorporating the 50 percent over six years build out requirement.

No comments:

Web Analytics