Home

Legislative Memo

Anne Van Buren

BILL:

A.8979 (Tonko) / S.5910 (Spano)

Support

SUBJECT:

Service Standards for certain telephone companies

 

DATE:

June 24, 2005

 

The Business Council strongly opposes this legislation, which would legislate consumer protections and service standards for customers of telephone corporations providing local exchange services.

If enacted into law, this measure would be an unprecedented intrusion by the Legislature into an area of responsibility under the purview of the Public Service Commission (PSC). Public Service Law is clearly states that the Commission has the authority to oversee telephone corporations. With regard to service quality oversight, the PSC carefully monitors service provided by telephone companies and acts accordingly with corrective measures when necessary. One simply needs to review Part 603 of the Commission regulations to know that the agency is working to ensure both residential and business telecommunications customers are receiving quality service.

This legislation fails to recognize that there is growing evidence that the telecommunications world has changed. There are now more competitors, more ways in which to communicate, and a variety of technologies that are available to consumers across the state, including cable, wireless, satellite, IP and wireline. Consumers have a wide array of choices for voice, data and video. This bill moves in entirely the wrong direction by proposing specific service quality standards and penalties on traditional providers, while others are completely unregulated. Instead of recognizing this competition, the legislation handicaps one segment provider.

Proponents of the bill purport that the legislation may lead to job growth in the industry, but this is speculative at best, as the legislation creates an uneven playing field between providers. The employees of one provider may actually be disadvantaged if the company cannot remain viable due to burdensome requirements.

For the abovementioned reasons, The Business Council opposes this bill and requests it not be adopted.