The first line of legislation to reform communications policy in the Lone Star State may not say it all, but it says a great deal.
Strike: Telecommunications Utilities
Insert: Advanced Service Infrastructure and Intermodal Competition
Representative Phil King introduced HB 789 and will begin hearings next week. More in-depth analysis of the bill will follow but a cursory read suggests that the guiding principles of their effort are to a) reduce access charges by 2007; b) inject immediate retail price flexibility into the marketplace; and c) set the stage for an overhaul of the state universal service fund.
As is the case in every legislative process, the bill is a starting point. It will be pulled, tugged, pushed and manipulated through the legislative committee and floor debates. But for starters, King would introduce a new chapter to the Texas code, Chapter 51 to allow incumbents to elect into full retail price flexibility. The trade off? Electing firms must give up USF funds.
One other key feature jumps out from a brief review of the bill. It does not appear to have any state regulation on broadband. More to follow on this bill.