Op-ed: Can you Hear Me Now? The Time has Come for Telecommunications Deregulation
By Anna McCauslin, AFP-PA Policy Director
State Representative Warren Kampf has sponsored a bill to level the playing field and bring greater competition to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s telecommunications industry. Currently, traditional landline telephone companies are regulated under rules which were first enacted in 1983. As everyone can agree, much has changed in the telecommunications sector in the past 30 years.
With incredible innovation in telecommunications, citizens of the Commonwealth now have a number of alternatives to conventional landline telephone service. For more than a decade, cable and wireless companies have offered various services, such as cable and internet-based voice services. In fact, nearly five million customers have opted for those alternative services. However, the reality is that cable and wireless companies do not face the special government regulation and oversight that the traditional landline telephone companies do.
This is not an argument for additional regulation because burdensome regulations often stifle innovation and competition. Instead of extending existing and onerous regulations and government intrusion into the marketplace, Representative Kampf has wisely proscribed a better approach by proposing to end certain regulations of the telecommunications industry. House Bill 1608 will lead to a more level playing field in the industry, and it will foster increased competition among companies in the industry which often leads to new innovations and gains that benefit customers.
It is also important to note that Representative Kampf’s House Bill 1608 will not end all regulation of the telecommunications industry in the Commonwealth with the Federal Communications Commission maintaining its role as industry regulator.
At AFP-Pennsylvania, we believe the Commonwealth and its citizens are best served by a marketplace unshackled from the irons of government overregulation and infringement. We support Representative Kampf and his legislation designed to unleash more competition in the Commonwealth’s telecommunications sector which will ultimately lead to more and better options for consumers. We encourage the General Assembly to move forward with and pass House Bill 1608.