Pennsylvania’s Turn for Reform Bill

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Pennsylvania legislators believe state franchise approval will speed deployment and lower cable rates, so a bipartisan team is set to introduce a reform bill.

Sponsor state Sen. Domenic Pileggi (R-9th District) noted at a press conference Tuesday that his constituents are working people and seniors on fixed income who need relief from cable rates that are "expensive and rising."

He and co-sponsor Sen. Anthony Williams (D-8th District) will introduce a bill that will allow new competitors to gain statewide franchise approval 15 days after they file an application with the state Corporation Bureau.

Incumbent operators will be held to their current agreements until their stipulated expiration date unless a municipality and provider reach a mutual agreement to let the cable provider out of a current franchise.

New competitors may identify their own intended service area. The only reference to a build-out in the draft requires new providers to provide service, without discrimination based on a consumer's income, in a "reasonable period of time."

Verizon Communications Inc. lauded the bill.

"The legislation properly recognizes that technology and competition have outpaced current franchise regulations. The bill encourages new competitors to invest in and provide cable-television alternatives for consumers while protecting the legitimate rights of Pennsylvania's municipalities," said William Petersen, Verizon's Pennsylvania president.

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