It’s about time New Jersey deregulated all telephone and cable TV services

In a little over a week the NJ State Senate will vote on a bill to eliminate century-old regulations on telephone and cable television companies. It has already passed in the Assembly, by 66 – 7. The “Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act” (SB 2664) removes requirements for the Board of Public Utilities to micromanage every telecom business decision. Thanks to archaic rules established back when Marconi was an apprentice lineman the BPU has to approve even the smallest change to any phone or cable service offering.

Naturally AARP and the usual cornucopia of lefty “consumer” groups are lined up against deregulation. That alone ought to be reason enough to support it! (Grin) Their main objection seems to be that only the government can ensure the price of basic cable and landline telephone service remains low. Because as I’m sure you remember, back when the government regulated long distance charges it was so much cheaper to call California than it is now.

Government always adds to the cost of doing business. Always.

Those BPU approvals don’t come cheap. There are lawyers fees, filing fees, document fees, not to mention the cost of the time wasted petitioning a collection of political patronage hacks for permission to run a business as the owners see fit. It probably didn’t even make sense back when NJ Bell was the only game in town.

Nowadays it’s blatantly anachronistic.

The days of Mabel and her cord board are over. They’re not coming back.

But try telling that to luddites who won’t give up their rotary phones. They’re determined to ensure the rules requiring new telecom companies to negotiate seperately with every township, municipality, and duchy in the state remain in effect. Even worse the current rules mandate that a new competitor has to offer every single one of the services which are provided by the incumbents.

Yeah, that’ll foster innovation.

Vast swaths of New York City are now being wired for municipal WiFi. You couldn’t do that here in NJ. A system which might pass muster in Caldwell is almost certain to be incompatible with objections put forth by the Essex Fells techophobe brain trust. (Think I’m kidding? Let’s talk about cell towers, the Trotter Tract, and the Ionizing Radiation Bogeyman sometime.)

The “Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act” merely removes those types of unreasonable roadblocks. It won’t double your phone bill. It won’t let Comcast stop including PBS in basic cable. And it won’t stop you from still receiving top quality telephone and cable service. In fact you just might find a better service provider is lusting after your business at a lower price.

Support Senate bill S2664. You’ll be glad you did.

(Cross-posted from WyBlog.us.:  Follow me on Twitter @WyBlog)

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