BY PHILLIP K. BEACHEM
Most of us use a variety of telecommunications services on a daily basis. It’s hard to remember when we didn’t have these advanced devices and services at our fingertips. The fact that the world has changed isn’t news to anyone, but it might surprise you to learn that regulations governing the telecommunications market haven’t changed in nearly a century.
The telecommunications market has changed drastically—especially in the past decade. The market has become flooded with competition giving consumers more choices. Even though the industry has changed, the outdated and burdensome rules governing it have not kept pace.
As a result, these regulatory laws have slowed investment and hurt our already dismal business climate at a time when growth and job creation are particularly critical.
New Jersey’s current regulatory system served New Jersey well decades ago when no competition existed for communications services. But now, consumers have many different providers and technologies to choose from. Clearly, lack of competition is not an issue in the modern communications marketplace, and it hasn’t been for some time.
These outdated regulations and laws are unnecessary, and they’re hurting consumers and the market itself. Modernizing these regulations will promote competition and innovation and lower the cost of doing business in this state. Recognizing these facts, the New Jersey State Assembly in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion recently passed the “Marketplace Competition and Consumer Choice Act,” a much-needed regulatory reform bill that will remove the unnecessary and outdated laws. The New Jersey Senate is set to vote on this legislation (S–2664) soon, and in doing so, they have an opportunity to improve the overall business climate and level the playing field for telecommunications companies.
The results of such a vote will have tremendous benefits. Removing these roadblocks to progress will open up new possibilities for economic growth and investment in our state. Instead of being bound by antiquated rules, telecommunications companies can focus on providing evolving services and on expanding investments in New Jersey, which will create jobs at a time when such economic growth is badly needed. And in fact, that’s exactly what has happened in states that have modernized telecommunication regulation: For example, in the two years since Indiana passed similar regulatory reform, telecommunications companies have invested more than $516 million to expand services—and subsequently create jobs—in that state. Given New Jersey’s highly competitive market, we could realize even better results and enjoy expanded technologies.
The telecommunications market has changed radically. Consumers now have more choices in technologies and services than ever before, and competition has kept prices low and improved service quality. But it’s time now for our laws to change, too: The passage of S–2664 could be an essential turning point for our state and an important win for both the business community and consumers.
Philip K. Beachem is president of the New Jersey Alliance for Action.