October 19, 2006
We believe that a statewide video franchise law is critical to Georgia’s future. Telecommuting, telemedicine, virtual schools and other high tech advances hold great promise for a large, rural state like Georgia, but to take full advantage of these technologies we need a more robust telecommunications network. Revenues from Internet service alone do not appear sufficient to support this size of an investment, but Internet services combined with voice and video services offer a much more attractive opportunity for capital investment.
Voice and video are shifting from analog to digital, and everything is becoming bits – nothing but ones and zeros represented by flashes of light. Fiber optic lines carry data, voice and video bits simultaneously. Traditional telephone companies, traditional cable television companies and other providers will own the fiber and will provide all of these services. It is clear that the old lines separating services and industries are blurring and disappearing – as should the regulations.
Eleven other states have deregulated their video markets, including our neighbors in South and North Carolina. When companies offering these new services are deciding where to invest, we don’t want to make it easy for them to prioritize other states because of our burdensome and outdated regulations.
No segment of the video market should be at a regulatory disadvantage. That’s why we would also support efforts to free cable television providers from existing franchise agreements, as other states have done. There should be a level playing field, but we should make sure that we level down, rather than up, ensuring that this effort results in deregulation for all parties.
Deregulation and additional competition will lower prices, improve quality, create jobs and spur much-needed investment in rural communities.
Lower prices, better quality and more choices are all positives for Georgia consumers. More access is a positive for rural Georgia. For all of these reasons, we believe the deregulation of video services should be a top priority.
When I served four terms in the state Senate, one of the few places where you could go to always and get concrete information about real solutions was the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. That hasn’t changed. [The Foundation] is really right up there at the top of the state think tanks, so you should be very proud of the work that they are doing!