Perry Signs Sweeping Telecommunications Reform Bill

9-7-05 - Phone companies can offer enhanced TV services throughout Texas under legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry said the measure will spark new technology investments and create greater competition for video, cable and telecommunications services.

"I'm proud Texas is taking the national lead in bringing choice to cable customers, offering broadband over power lines, and investing in new telecommunications innovations," Perry said. The measure "will pave the way for new technology investments, create jobs and remove barriers to 21st century innovations."

The bill's writer, Rep. Phil King, anticipates the law will create of 12,000 new jobs and $1.8 billion in annual investment and spending.

The wide-ranging telecommunications bill would allow phone companies to avoid the thousands of local cable TV licenses that cable companies must acquire. Another provision allows big phone companies to set their own rates for basic services, which consumer advocates worry could cost Texans millions of dollars.

Texas is one of several states to consider the issue, with phone companies and cable companies engaged in a furious battle. Cable companies have vowed to fight such a law in court.

"The winners will be Texas consumers who will get more choices in their cable television service, and access to new innovations in telecommunications," Perry said.