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Phone dereg win for Haridopolos

The Senate commerce committee, after nearly killing Sen. Mike Haridopolos' phone deregulation bill earlier this month, just voted 6-4 in favor of it, with Sens. Dan Gelber, Charlie Justice, Evelyn Lynn and Victor Crist opposed.

Haridopolos amended SB 2626 to pretty much match the version that passed the House earlier today, and like House sponsor Rep. Will Weatherford he said it's more "consumer friendly" than the original version.

The legislation is ready for a House floor vote but has one more committee stop in the Senate. The big phone companies have been pushing the proposal - though Verizon this week pulled its support.

Comments

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Consumer Friendly? I think not.

"Consumer friendly"?? I find that difficult to believe. This bill is much more likely to result in an increase in consumer phone bills as well as muzzle innovation in the Voice Over Internet Protocol sector (e.g. Skype).

The St. Petersburgh Times and the Miami Herald recently stated the bill could increase phone bills by 20%. That's hardly within my definition of "consumer friendly.

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2009/mar/24/proposed-phone-deregulation-could-boost-bills-20-p/

FreeMarketer Against the Bill

I'm as big a fan of the free market as the next guy, but this deregulation bill doesn't have my support. The way the bill is written, it creates barriers to entry for new voice-over internet protocol products. That's precisely counter market theory!

Why deviate from the status quo for a blow to VOIP innovation and a possible increase in phone bills? Florida legislature, please oppose this bill!

SkypeFan

While I had some problems with the original bill, I fully support it as it is now amended. The recent amendments - particularly the broadband internet service amendment - addresses all of my major concerns. I agree with FreeMarketer; VoIP is the the future of telecom and it should be encouraged, not hindered.

And Consumer Friendly? will be happy to know that the Miami Herald's fear-mongering claims that phone bills could increase by 20% is misleading at best. One of Oelrich's amendments limited that to a maximum of 10% where there is competition and 6% where there is not.

With the increased reliance on cell phones as primary household phones, I can't imagine phone companies can get away with severe rate hikes without losing customers in droves. If anything, rate hikes would further incentivize the usage of non-traditional phone services such as VoIP.

navarrow

While I understand the need for traditional phone companies to remain competitive in the face of technological alternatives offered by services such as Vonage and Skype, the issue at hand seems to be a poorly constructed bill that will inevitably lead to higher prices.

Personally, I'm most concerned with the issue of how much the phone companies can raise your rates in the first years. Some want it to be 10%, some want it to be 20%. The current compromise has set a 10% increase, but this may well be the first step to future increases.


cynthia b

Taking away the PSC's ability to protect customers from poor service and unreasonable rate increases would be a disservice to Florida residents and set a dangerous precedent for deregulation in other states.

When you deregulate a monopoly, the monopoly usually wins, which probably explains AT&T's desperate push to pass this bill.

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