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Michigan should update telecom policies

Gail F. Torreano - November 3rd, 2005
The Michigan Telecommunications Act, known at the MTA, is the main law governing the telecommunications industry in our state. The Legislature is currently reviewing bills to modernize the MTA because the law sunsets at the end of this year.
The MTA was last updated in 2000 and dramatic changes have occurred as new technologies, such as wireless and voice over the Internet, have emerged. Lawmakers have an opportunity to put consumers in the driver’s seat by removing unnecessary regulations. Consumers win when they are allowed to choose the services they want based on their individual needs and the best providers.
Today, Michigan has one of the most competitive communications industries in the nation and consumers are using these new technologies to meet their communication needs. As a result of this demand, there is competition in every communications sector including long-distance, local voice, wireless and broadband. Experience has shown that a marketplace responsive to consumer choice is the most effective way to ensure competitive prices and superior quality. Legislators should keep this fact in mind when creating a new MTA.
Burdensome regulatory barriers need to be removed from the existing MTA to ensure competition continues to thrive and technological innovations flourish. Removing unnecessary obstacles to doing business will lead to financial investment and job creation in Michigan. Businesses will spend money in the state if there are polices in place that permit consumers, not regulators, to drive the marketplace. Increased economic investment will lead to the creation of jobs as businesses expand their services to meet consumer demand. This is a much needed remedy for a state that continues to struggle with the highest unemployment rate in the country.
In addition to fostering competition and innovation, it is important for legislators to carry over consumer protections from the existing MTA into a new law. Measures such as prohibiting slamming and cramming and ensuring all citizens, regardless of income, have access to basic phone services are critical.
Legislators should seize the opportunity they have before them to create an environment where consumers win. Now is the time to move Michigan’s telecommunications policies into the 21st century.

 
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