Telecoms reach deal on Nevada broadband regulatory ban
June 4, 2003
Nevada would be blocked from regulating broadband services such as high-speed Internet, under legislation that won final approval shortly before the 2003 Legislature ended early Tuesday.
The final version of SB400 includes a major amendment forged through a deal between competitors and bill backers Sprint and SBC Communications.
The two former monopoly telecom giants say such legislation is needed to ensure they can compete equally with other companies. Lawmakers agreed.
Tim Hay, consumer advocate for Nevada’s utility customers, said he’s worried the change could increase rates for some customers, but applauded amendments allowing regulators to review companies’ broadband profits in a rate hearing.
SBC has sought freedom from regulation in other states where it provides local phone service, saying it needs assurance that it can make a reasonable return on money spent to expand its broadband network.
The firm’s competitors including AT&T and MCI WorldCom contend the legislation would let SBC and Sprint stifle competition by tying together phone and DSL services and shutting out alternative providers.
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SB400 also lets companies billing for packaged services include only one overall price, not costs of each part of the package or “unit” pricing. Telecoms must not go below the combined “floor” rates for each part of the package, a provision Hay said is designed to prevent “predatory pricing.”