New Telecom Bill Proposal

U.S. senator unveils bill that aids phone carriers [pdf]

[Sen. John] Ensign, a Nevada Republican and chairman of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on technology, innovation and competitiveness, called his 72-page bill a starting point as Congress considers overhauling the 1996 Telecommunications Act that aimed to promote competition in voice services.

“Changes in technology necessitate that we update these rules if America is going to be competitive in the face of global competition,” he told reporters, pointing to rankings that the United States has slipped to as low as 16th in the world for deploying high-speed Internet service, known as broadband.

Under the bill, companies that want to offer video service would no longer have to get permission from local or state officials, a boon to companies like Verizon Communications and SBC Communications Inc., which are rolling out video.

It would also eliminate requirements in 2011 that the four big local telephone companies, known as the Baby Bells and includes Verizon and SBC, resell their phone service to other competitors at regulated rates or have to make parts of their existing copper networks available to competitors.

Senator Ensign’s press release on The Broadband Consumer Choice Act of 2005.