Friday, March 23, 2007

Teleco Franchise Reform Dissected

Karl Bove succinctly slices and dices the state-level franchise reform packages pushed by the phone companies (most prominent among which is our own AT&T):
While phone company lobbyists couldn't sell "franchise reform" on the federal level via Ted Stevens, they've had great success convincing state legislators (and the press and public) that stripping towns and cities of their regulatory authority will result in faster deployment of broadband and lower TV prices. While their lobbyists promise lawmakers cheap cable, the baby bells' primary goal is the elimination of build-out requirements, allowing them to maximize ROI by deploying services only to the most profitable neighborhoods.
After running through the telco BS on issues like lower prices (hasn't happened) and widespread deployment (not part of the plan) Bove closes with this:
The demonization of the local franchise system has been a multi-year, sophisticated public relations effort aimed at passing laws that will kill build-out requirements, eliminate local accountability, and create a one-stop-shopping lobbying point for the nation's largest phone companies. The push is aimed at saving these companies money, and nothing else. The bills we've read offer no benefits to consumers. Don't drink the phone company lobbyist Kool-Aid that suggests killing local authority will result in broadband utopia, increased deployment, and lower prices -- because you are going to be disappointed.
Good stuff. Recommended.

While similar points have been raised on these pages it is nice to see national voices sounding the call. And we'll get our chance again: it's all coming to a legislature across the big muddy in April....mark my words.

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