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  • normboyz normboyz Aug 9, 2005 9:46 PM Flag

    Update Texas Telecommunications Law

    Looks like legislative approval could come as early as tommorrow.

    08/10/2005

    By JIM VERTUNO / Associated Press

    Shrugging off a bitter fight by the cable television industry, Texas lawmakers moved forward Tuesday night with efforts to make it easier for phone and other companies to offer cable-like services.

    The wide-ranging telecommunications bills, delayed most of the summer by the battle over public school finance, would allow phone companies to avoid the thousands of local cable TV licenses that cable companies must acquire.

    The Senate tentatively passed its version Tuesday night. The House, which debated its nearly identical version for several hours, delayed a vote until Wednesday when it could take up the Senate version. Ultimate approval by the House was expected, which would send the issue to Gov. Rick Perry for his consideration.

    Texas is one of several states that have considered the issue, with phone companies and cable companies engaged in a furious battle.

    The bills would allow phone and other companies that want to offer TV services to get a franchise from the state instead of contracting with each city they want to serve, which cable companies must do under existing law.

    Supporters of the bills say phone companies such as SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., which have pushed for their approval, will increase competition for cable services and give consumers more choice.

    Supporters also promise the change would draw billions of dollars in new technology investment to the state.

    The cable industry has opposed the bill, saying big phone companies will achieve unprecedented competitive advantages. Current rules require local franchise licenses, regulations governing aerial and below-ground cables, and requirements that a television provider offer service to all homes rather than being allowed to pick and choose neighborhoods.

    The bill would also keep in effect many existing contracts between cites and cable companies until they expire.

    Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, the sponsor of the House bill, said he expects phone companies offering cable-like services will want to reach as many customers as possible.

    "I think we're going to be amazed how quickly this takes hold," King said. "The real effect is going to be competition. It's a bill allowing more companies to allow more choices to consumers. That's how competition works."

    Cable companies dominate TV service now but phone companies are trying to get into the business by offering video service over fiber-optic networks that could also carry voice and high-speed data transmission.

    The bill has had widespread support in both the House and Senate. It failed in the summer's first special session that ended in July when it couldn't break out of the legislative logjam created in the battle over public school finance.

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    • Here's SBC's press statement released this afternoon.

      SBC Communications Statement Regarding Texas House and Senate Passing Telecom and Video Legislation

      AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 10, 2005--The Texas House today voted 144-1 to approve legislation that reforms the state's telecommunications laws and establishes rules that encourage new competitors to enter the TV market. The Texas Senate last night also approved the bill. The measure now goes to the governor. The following statement can be attributed to SBC Texas (NYSE:SBC) President Jan Newton:


      "This action is a testament to the legislature's commitment to Texas consumers. This is a new era of communications - one marked by new technologies, unprecedented choice and unparalleled convenience. Lawmakers recognize the potential in this marketplace and have moved to seize on its opportunities and promise.

      "Nowhere is this promise greater than in Texas, which today demonstrated again that the voice of the consumer rises above all others. By passing this bill, lawmakers have encouraged new competitors - using new technologies - to build broadband infrastructure and provide a next-generation video alternative to cable.

      "Video represents the next great frontier in our industry. As we have seen in long distance, wireless, high-speed Internet and local service, competition means better prices and better products for consumers.

      "We applaud both legislative chambers. We are anxious to move ahead with our broadband and video initiatives in Texas and believe final approval of the bill will enable us to even more aggressively invest in next-generation technologies in the state. We are hopeful that policymakers elsewhere will take similar measures so consumers will win with more competitive choices and next-generation video services."

      SBC Communications Inc. is a Fortune 50 company whose subsidiaries, operating under the SBC brand, provide a full range of voice, data, networking, e-business, directory publishing and advertising, and related services to businesses, consumers and other telecommunications providers. SBC holds a 60 percent ownership interest in Cingular Wireless, which serves 51.6 million wireless customers. SBC companies provide high-speed DSL Internet access lines to more American consumers than any other provider and are among the nation's leading providers of Internet services. SBC companies also offer satellite TV service. Additional information about SBC and SBC products and services is available at www.sbc.com.

    • TELECOMMUNICATIONS BILL APPROVED
      From Staff, Wire Reports
      08/09/2005

      Two East Texas lawmakers were the sole holdouts on a telecommunications bill passed Tuesday night. That measure, which would make it easier for phone and other companies to offer cable-like services, was approved by the Texas Senate without the support of Sens. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, and Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler.

      "Although I like components of the telecom bill, I believe we are here in special session to work on school finance reform," Eltife said. "Our mission should be focused on funding public education, teacher pay raises and providing property tax relief for our homeowners. I could not support a telecom bill at this time when we have yet to accomplish our main goals of this session."

      The wide-ranging telecommunications bills, delayed most of the summer by the battle over public school finance, would allow phone companies to avoid the thousands of local cable TV licenses that cable companies must acquire.

      The Senate passed its version Tuesday night. The House, which debated its nearly identical version for several hours, delayed a vote until Wednesday when it could take up the Senate version. Ultimate approval by the House was expected, which would send the issue to Gov. Rick Perry for his consideration.

      Texas is one of several states that have considered the issue, with phone companies and cable companies engaged in a furious battle.

      The bills would allow phone and other companies that want to offer TV services to get a franchise from the state instead of contracting with each city they want to serve, which cable companies must do under existing law.

      Supporters of the bills say phone companies such as SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., which have pushed for their approval, will increase competition for cable services and give consumers more choice.

      Supporters also promise investment to the state.

      The cable industry has opposed the bill, saying big phone companies will achieve unprecedented competitive advantages. Current rules require local franchise licenses, regulations governing aerial and below-ground cables, and requirements that a television provider offer service to all homes rather than being allowed to pick and choose neighborhoods.

      The bill would also keep in effect many existing contracts between cites and cable companies until they expire.

      Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, the sponsor of the House bill, said he expects phone companies offering cable-like services will want to reach as many customers as possible.

      "I think we're going to be amazed how quickly this takes hold," King said. "The real effect is going to be competition. It's a bill allowing more companies to allow more choices to consumers. That's how competition works."

      Cable companies dominate TV service now but phone companies are trying to get into the business by offering video service over fiber-optic networks that could also carry voice and high-speed data transmission.

      The bill has had widespread support in both the House and Senate. It failed in the summer's first special session that ended in July when it couldn't break out of the legislative logjam created in the battle over public school finance.

      • 2 Replies to normboyz
      • Seems to me this passage of Texas telecommunications bill portends good things ahead for the rollout of FTTX.

        First, it creates momentum for deregulating the deployment of triple services.

        Second, it gives VZ and SBC a green-light to go full bore in Texas, a very large and populous state. SBC might actually start preparation for deployment of Project Lightspeed first in Texas; i.e. start ordering and deploying fiber in targeted areas, so when Microsoft has the software ready for IPTV, customer signup could start immediately.

        Lastly, if Texas' early start on deregulation bears fruit (i.e. actually motivates SBC to deploy triple play), it will provide support for the recently introduced federal legislation, which is expected to be acted upon by the end of this year.

      • << I could not support a telecom bill at this time when we have yet to accomplish our main goals of this session.">>

        That's one of the dumbest statements I've ever heard! It's akin to stating, "I couldn't support starting this patient on chemotherapy, as the patient still has a cold"! Somebody needs to give this guy a swift kick in the ass with a snakeskin cowboy boot!

        Just damn! Can't this guy walk and chew gum at the same time? Maybe if they can pass this bill it will enable more schools (and student homes) to receive fiber optic broadband!

    • I wonder how far the cable companies will fight what they see as unfair trade advantage to the telcos. It may go all the way to the Supreme Court.

 
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