The Business Council opposes this legislation that directs the Department of Public Service to undertake an audit of the current status of cable television systems operating and providing services to the customer premises over fiber optic cables.
The bill specifically provides that the audit include the total number of franchises that provide such services; a demographic analysis of the municipalities where they are provided; a demographic analysis of the racial, ethnic and income characteristics of each of these municipalities; a demographic analysis of municipalities that do not have access to such service; and a demographic analysis by county and region defined by ESDC of the areas that do have such service and those that do not have access to such service.
We oppose this bill for a number of reasons.
First, the bill is narrowly tailored to apply the audit requirements only to those companies who provide internet services through fiber-optic cable. Internet services provided through other means are excluded. This leads one to conclude that the bill is not designed to address the broader issue of the deployment of high-speed internet services to consumers across the board, but rather to audit and report on the deployment and development of one specific company’s internet services.
Second, this bill could potentially undermine the state’s effort to grow and promote investment in our telecommunications network. Telecommunications providers have faced many challenges in the market in recent years. Some have lost tens of thousands of jobs as customers have switched to services offered by other competitors. The promotion of fiber optic cable service offers our best hope to continue growth in New York State. We must not hinder the efforts of those who will invest heavily in this state to promote this medium by auditing their service activities and making judgments about how such service is deployed.
The legislative process should not be used to dictate where a particular service provider deploys its fiber optic network. Nor should the legislative process be used to target one company while ignoring its competitors.
Fiber optic cable is an exciting service, but it cannot succeed over the long term if we attempt to expand the network too quickly. Instead of advancing legislation of this nature, we urge the sponsor to support a competitive marketplace that not only encourages greater investment and job creation but also provides superior consumer protections by putting choice in customers' hands.
For the reasons stated above, we oppose passage of A.6268/S.4506.