Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger requesting veto of AB 2987

Readers are encouraged to send this letter or a modified version to Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger
State of California

RE: AB 2987

Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger:

I urge you to veto AB 2987, the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006. While the legislation’s stated purpose is to expand modern digital telecommunications and market competition and consumer choice, it would not benefit large numbers of Californians living and working outside urban areas of the state.

Since the bill’s provisions require telephone and cable companies to only partially build out their digital networks, it locks in a flawed public policy of leaving less urbanized areas behind and undermines the decades-old public policy of universal common carrier access to telecommunications services.

AB 2987 would produce two separate but unequal Californias: one with access to modern, digital telecommunications services and one without. Residents of urban areas would be the winners and those outside these areas the losers under AB 2987.

There is no doubt that modern telecommunications services including broadband Internet access is critical to California’s economic well being by facilitating commerce and encouraging business and job formation. Such services also reduce impact on highways and the environment by reducing commute trips since they allow information work to be conducted remotely. Since most jobs are located in urban areas whereas housing development has spread far beyond these areas, Californians are traveling ever-longer distances between their homes and workplaces.

It is vital that all Californians and not just those in urban areas share in the benefits of modern, digital telecommunications services. Given the enormous impact of telecommunications policy on California’s economy, rather than sign AB 2987 into law, I suggest you instead direct the Public Utilities Commission or other appropriate body to study California’s telecommunications needs to determine the best policies and incentives to encourage the rapid deployment of digital telecommunications services that will benefit all Californians.

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