Indiana Joining Parade to Telecom Deregulation
The state of Indiana ranks a lowly 40th in the number of homes with broadband Internet connections, but new legislation based in part on ideas from Discovery Institute and its “Technology and Democracy Project” could change that. The Indiana House of Representatives on April 11 passed a bill that would prohibit the regulation of broadband and other advanced services and would relax price restrictions on legacy voice and data products.
The measure previously passed the Senate and now goes to a Conference Committee to reconcile differences between the two bodies. For years Indianas Utility Regulatory Commission has imposed some of the nation’s most severe price controls and restrictions on telecom service providers and has thus attracted relatively little investment in new broadband networks. The states telecom laws have not been revised since 1985.
Indiana’s new legislation would send a message that the state is on a deregulatory path and would likely attract substantial new investment in high-speed optical fiber networks.
Discovery Institute senior fellow Bret Swanson, a native of Indiana and current resident of Zionsville, IN, has provided the intellectual foundation for the new legislation in a series of speeches and briefings and in testimony to the states General Assembly. Swanson served as Gov. Mitch Daniels transition chair for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, where he recommended numerous changes to the way the Commission regulates telecom and provided an outline for the legislation now making its way to the Governors desk.
“Regulatory reform in telecommunications should be a major issue for the states, not just the federal government,” Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman. “We need to see Indiana complete its reforms and other states to follow this example as needed.”