Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act
Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada) and Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) have introduced legislation intended to rewrite the 1996 Telecommunications Act. How the world has changed in the past 10 years.
How many people believed, in 1996, that the phone company would want to broadcast television into our homes over the phone lines? Or that phone calls would be carried over that pesky new-fangled thing, "the Internet?"
Today a 72 page bill was introduced to update legislation to the realities of convergence. The bill eliminates an enormous amount of regulation currently on the books that simply doesn't make sense in the 21st century. In addition it prevents new state and local regulation of satellite services and mobile services. This is all good for consumers.
At the same time the bill establishes "Basic Telephone Service" obligations and, most importantly from an IP Inferno perspective, it guarantees Broadband consumers with access to content and applications (such as VoIP).
Finally, the bill addresses video services -- eliminating state and local licenses and promoting competition.
This is a much needed overhaul of Federal regulation, especially in the light of the Supreme Court's recent "Brand 'X'" ruling. But one item was left out... how to fund the Universal Service Fund.
So will we see passage in our lifetimes? Not without changes, but this is a hopeful step toward the new world where we no longer have "cable" companies and "telephone" companies -- just bandwidth companies.