Governor Signs Fraser Telecommunications Bill
Austin -- Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 5 on Wednesday, the sweeping communications reform bill authored by Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay). Senate Bill 5 implements rules to allow new entrants into the video and cable business, transforms the communications industry with a rational progression toward deregulating residential phone markets, and expands opportunities for Texans to get high speed Internet over their existing power lines.
"I am pleased that the Governor has signed this important piece of legislation into law," Fraser said. "For years, the cable industry has faced little or no competition. This bill creates a fair and balanced approach to creating additional competition in all aspects of the communications industry. This is a huge step forward for the Texas consumer and will bring in billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the state."
Senate Bill 5 creates a state-issued certificate of franchise authority for companies to provide cable or video service. Once implemented, this will allow new entrants into the video and cable business. Competition means prices will decrease for the consumer as well as give them more choices for their video and cable services.
The bill ensures that while the telecommunications market is being further opened to competition, customer rates for basic phone service will remain steady, as the industry rationally progresses toward deregulating residential phone markets.
Senate Bill 5, passed by the Legislature in the Second Called Special Session, also includes a provision to allow access to the Internet through existing power lines. Broadband over power lines (BPL) is a new emerging technology which delivers Internet connections just like cable and DSL but over power lines. This allows an electricity utility to lease their lines to operate a BPL service or system, and consumers will be able to access the Internet by simply plugging a device into an existing electric outlet.
"BPL gives consumers greater choices by offering them the opportunity to have phone service over the Internet via the power lines," Fraser said. "This will increase competition while encouraging new competitors to enter the marketplace. This new technology will help drive down costs while allowing all customers, including those in hard-to-serve rural Texas, more choices."
A recent study released by a research and economy firm indicated that policies supporting an increased market entry by telecommunications participants would increase spending to over $1 billion and would include over 10,000 new permanent jobs. "This is not only a win for the Texas consumer and telecommunications industry but the Texas economy as well," Fraser said.