[July 27, 2005]

U.S. Sen. John Ensign Releases Telecom Act Rewrite

By TED GLANZER
TMCnet Communications and Broadband Columnist

U.S. Sen. John Ensign (R Nev.) this morning announced his long-awaited rewrite of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which is entitled the Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act of 2005.

According to a prepared statement, the proposed legislation "aims to encourage widespread investment, innovation and competition across todays diverse communications landscapeto restore Americas status as the #1 global information leaderand to deliver to consumers an array of leading-edge communications choices and services."


A preliminary review of the proposed law revealed the following highlights:

The "general principal" governing the rewrite effectively obliterates the distinctions between common carriers and cable communications. Further, the general provisions of the Communications Act have also been deleted.

Certain provisions were untouched, including enforcement, procedural and administrative provisions, Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), prohibitions on obscene Internet material, pole attachment requirements, automatic dialing (telephone solicitation), access for the disabled, including the hearing and speech impaired.

Ensign's rewrite would preserve municipal broadband deployment, provided that the state or municipality gives notice to and permit non-government entities to bid to provide the service. Preference must be given to non-government entities in the bidding process.

Municipalities that already offer broadband services to their residents and businesses would be grandfathered.

The rewrite would also relieve video service providers from having to: obtain state and local franchises; build out their video distribution requirements for video service providers; or provide leased access to its video facilities.

TMCnet will provide further in-depth coverage of Sen. Ensign's proposed legislation as details become available.

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Ted Glanzer is assistant editor for TMCnet. For more articles by Ted Glanzer, please visit:

http://www.tmcnet.com/tmcnet/columnists/columnist.aspx?id=100033&nm=Ted%20Glanzer

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