Citizens for a Digital Future is pushing Senate Bill 88 pretty hard in Kentucky this legislative session (they’re even advertising here). It was introduced on Tuesday by Hornback, Carpenter, Higdon and Schickel:
AN ACT relating to telecommunications.
Create a new section of KRS 278.541 to 278.544 to establish an alternative regulation plan for telephone utilities that operate under the price regulation plan in KRS 278.543; eliminate Public Service Commission regulation of terms, conditions, rates, and availability of service, except basic local exchange service; require electing utilities to continue to offer basic local exchange service to existing customers in some exchanges; provide that an electing utility may be relieved of that obligation if there is alternative service available; exempt an electing utility from KRS 278.020(5) and (6), relating to commission approval of change of ownership or control, KRS 278.230(1) and (2), relating to commission access to utility books and records, KRS 278.250, relating to the commission’s right to investigate the condition of the utility, and KRS 278.510, relating to commission approval of consolidation with other utilities; amend KRS 278.54611 to remove commission jurisdiction over resolution of consumer complaints and end commission authority to develop standards for eligible telecommunications carriers; provide that the commission may ensure that carriers comply with FCC rules; amend KRS 278.5462 to end commission jurisdiction over consumer complaints concerning broadband service.
Backers claim wireless service won’t advance in rural Kentucky until the requirement to provide landline service is nixed. Which is a bit of a difficult spot for most legislators to be in. Do they want to appear as if they’re harming impoverished meemaws and poppops in rural Magoffin County or do they want to push for modern technology?
We stood against similar (not really similar, it was pretty extreme) legislation last year but the current proposals seem to be a bit better.
Here’s a radio spot being released by CDF:
It’s tough not to be on the fence. If reliable and affordable wireless service existed in Kentucky, it’d be a non-issue. Unfortunately, there are even areas inside Louisville where a reliable cell phone signal can’t be obtained.
There’s a part of the proposal that has many people concerned:
to remove commission jurisdiction over resolution of consumer complaints and end commission authority to develop standards for eligible telecommunications carriers
Removing Public Service Commission authority seems extreme. Particularly since the FCC barely functions as it is. Though, no one can deny that broadband and wireless service is a necessity in the modern world. If you want people in Kentucky to have broadband access, basically, the bill has to pass. Because the state certainly isn’t going to provide it and won’t see to it that broadband access actually becomes a reality. But without PSC oversight, there’s no real way to hold providers accountable.
What’s your take, folks?
Seriously. We need to discuss the pros and cons.