National Expert in Harrisburg to Meet With Officials, Policymakers
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Pennsylvania consumers stand to benefit from more and better telecommunications services, if their elected leaders in Harrisburg pursue a more deregulatory course as they update sector-specific regulations due to expire next month. That is the view of national telecommunications expert, Randolph J. May of The Progress & Freedom Foundation, who is in Harrisburg today to meet with legislators and release a new study, “Pennsylvania at Another Crossroads: Will it Opt for Less Regulation and Real Competition to Achieve Digital Progress?”
In the study, May and co-author Adam Peters argue that less regulation – and similar regulations across all provider platforms (wireless, wireline, cable, Internet, etc.) – would lead to greater investment, innovation and consumer benefits.
“With the Chapter 30 sunset, the legislature has an opportunity to enhance the welfare of all consumers in the Commonwealth,” write May and Peters. “The opportunity will be missed, however, unless it recognizes that its principal objective should be devising a less regulatory framework in which all service providers offering comparable services, regardless of the technology platform they employ, will be treated in a comparative manner.” A less regulatory approach “will stimulate investment for further deployment of broadband services to any currently underserved areas,” they say.
May and Peters point to changes in the Pennsylvania marketplace: wireless subscribership has increased 27 percent in two years, to 5.2 million; new voice-over-the-Internet and related services offered by cable companies “already are making rapid inroads in the voice telephone market”; the cable deployment rate is higher than 43 states, at 80 percent; growth in broadband deployment was 258 percent between 2000 and 2002; and “the number of local access lines Verizon serves is 5.9 million, down from about 7 million two years ago.”
The duo questions the utility of some current legislative proposals: “What is needed is not a whole new raft of mandates and subsidy transfers, enforced and overseen by a whole new raft of agencies, councils, and advisory boards, as some of the bills propose, but rather clear direction to a slimmed-down PUC to implement this free market vision.”
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.