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Colorado Looking to Update Telecom Regulations for Internet Era

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Colorado Looking to Update Telecom Regulations for Internet Era

March 12, 2014

  By David Delony, Contributing Writer

It’s an understatement to say that technology moves fast these days, and nowhere does it move faster than in the IP communications field.  Unfortunately, the law moves much more slowly. This is certainly the case in Colorado, where lawmakers are struggling to update its 1980s telecom regulations for the 21st century, according to The Colorado Statesman.

State Representative Anglea Williams of Denver, a Democrat, has been meeting with various stakeholders, including state politicians and executives at major telecom companies.

“I’ve been communicating with them on a daily basis as to the status of the drafts,” she told The Colorado Statesman. “I’ve asked them to have flexibility and patience as we try to work through a few more of the points of the bills so that we can get them ready for introduction.”

Williams is the chairwoman of the state’s House of Representatives Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee. She has decided to introduce three separate bills rather than an omnibus telecom regulation law.

Broadband development has emerged as a major political issue in the U.S., especially since President Barack Obama has championed it both when he campaigned as a candidate and in his State of the Union addresses.

The impetus for telecommunications reform in Colorado came from the state’s own Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, who also advocated for it in his own State of the State address.

The reforms have bipartisan support, with both Republicans and Democrats working to update the state’s regulations.

Some lawmakers, including Colorado Senate President John Morse, a Democrat from Colorado Springs, want more money to go into rural broadband deployment. Many rural areas lack broadband, as the deregulated telcos are free to neglect them and concentrate on more profitable urban areas.

Recent attempts to build up these rural networks in Colorado brought about congressional hearings due to “overbuild,” or building networks in areas that already had them.

While telcos might balk at regulation, Morse’s ouster in a recall election (due to his support of a controversial gun control measure) has actually made them more willing to deal with legislators.

Only time will tell how legislation adapts to a new world where more and more things happen over IP networks. Other states will undoubtedly be watching closely at what Colorado does.

Edited by Blaise McNamee
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