Telecom deregulation bill passes committee

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A measure deregulating all phone services in Florida passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee unanimously Tuesday despite the opposition of some consumer advocates, reports the News Service of Florida. The bill (SB 1524), sponsored by Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland, would add land-line telephone services to the list of utilities exempt from regulation by the Public Service Commission. Supporters of the measure say land-line companies are facing increasing competition from wireless phones and other technologies not covered by current regulations — and that those new technologies give customers choice that they didn’t have when phone rates were originally regulated. “If you don’t like your incumbent provider, competition is just a phone call away,” said former PSC Commissioner Nathan Skop. But Jack McRay of the AARP said rising prices could still affect some residents who might not have a way out. “There are basic land-line customers, both residential and small business customers, who don? want, don? need and can? use additional or other types of telecommunications services,” McRay said. The bill now moves to the Senate Budget Committee.

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