Comment on Passage of Telecom and Franchise Fee Reform (SB 5) in Texas

Published August 12, 2005

(August 12, 2005 — Chicago, IL) On August 10, the Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a measure allowing telecommunications companies to obtain a statewide franchise to offer video service. The Senate had passed the measure on August 9, and it is headed to Gov. Rick Perry for signature.

The following statement in response to the measure’s approval can be attributed to Steven Titch, senior fellow – IT and telecom policy for The Heartland Institute, a 21-year-old nonprofit research organization based in Chicago. Titch can be contacted for further information by telephone at 281/571-4322 (office) or 312/925-0464 (cell), or by email at [email protected].

Texas has taken a big step toward consumer choice for advanced telecommunications and entertainment services. Residents of the Lone Star State can expect to see lower prices and more innovation if Gov. Rick Perry signs SB 5, a key bill reforming telecommunications and cable regulations in the state.

The bill will allow telephone companies to deploy video services in direct competition with cable companies, providing consumers with a broad array of new entertainment and video options. The bill streamlines the outdated local franchise fee process by standardizing the process at the state level. That means consumers in thousands of cities and towns across the state will not have to wait months–or even years–for their local governments to make individual rulings on telephone company video services.

As state and federal regulators look on, Texas lawmakers should be applauded for their leadership and vision in embracing the competitive era in telecom, cable, and broadband services.

Steven Titch ([email protected]) is senior fellow – IT and telecom policy for The Heartland Institute, a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago. Founded in 1984, its goal is to help build social movements in support of ideas that empower people. Among other publications, Heartland publishes IT&T News, a monthly newsletter addressing technology and telecommunications policy issues. Heartland is supported by approximately 1,500 donors and members. For more information, call Ralph Conner, Public Affairs Director, 312/377-4000, or email him at [email protected].