Thursday, February 17, 2005
On this day:

PSC Courts Alfa to Oppose Telecom Bill

The Public Service Commission is seeking the support of the Alabama Farmer's Federation (Alfa) in its fight against telephone deregulation.

PSC President Jim Sullivan said the commission is courting Alfa because of the organization's connection to rural Alabama, but he noted, too, that state regulators will welcome other allies in fighting the BellSouth-backed proposal.

According to the PSC, if the bill passes, large companies like BellSouth will lower rates in competitive urban areas "in order to eliminate any remaining competition. When that remaining competition is gone, prices will go up and the affected customers will have no competitive alternative available."
The PSC's statement completely ignores the changes that are taking place in the telecommunications industry. Many people have dropped their home telephone service altogether, substituting their home telephone with a cell phone. Why shouldn't landline providers be able to compete under the same rules as wireless providers?

In addition, cable companies will soon offer VoIP (voice-over internet protocol), which allows people to use high-speed internet connections to make phone calls. Like wireless, VoIP is also largely free of PSC regulation.

Another emerging technology is broadband over powerlines (BPL), which provides data, voice, and video communications via elecrical power transmission lines.

A statement issued by BellSouth says it all: "market-based competition will allow consumers to choose from new services, more choices and better prices. Market-based competition, not government regulation, delivers for consumers."

It's time to create a level playing field so that companies and technologies can compete freely in an ever-more-vibrant telecommunications market.