As expected, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a franchising-reform bill that enables new competitors to get statewide operating authority within 30 days of application.
Daniels has devoted himself to reversing Indiana's financial fortunes. In past speeches, he said telecommunications reform is a key to economic improvement, adding that it would increase competition, create economic opportunities and spur investment in new technology.
The bill takes franchising out of the hands of city officials and places it under the authority of the Utility Regulatory Commission.
The bill differs from those in other states in that it will allow incumbent operators to decide, after July 1, whether they want to opt out of local agreements and seek state licensing.
All providers will pay 5% franchise fees and incumbents, whether or not they are state-licensed, and they must continue institutional-network support until the end of their franchises or 2008, whichever term is longer.