A new proposal that seeks to limit government regulation of the US telecommunications industry is currently under consideration in Congress.
The new bill, by South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint, joins other proposals that call for deregulation of the industry. However, draft legislation that seeks to broaden telecom regulation also is currently making its way through the government.
Congress will consider many new telecom bills next year, as part of its long-awaited update to the country’s 1996 Telecommunications Act. A number of US senators and vendors have criticized the law as inadequate because it does not factor in relatively new telecom technologies, such as wireless, broadband and VoIP.
DeMint’s bill would treat all phone services, including VoIP, wireless and cable, the same.
Today, cable, phone and wireless offer consumers similar services, but each one is bound by a different set of confusing and burdensome regulations, DeMint said, in a statement.
The essence of his proposal, dubbed the Digital Age Communications Act, is that competition in the marketplace will thrive if it is not burdened by unnecessary regulation. DeMint said the Act would replace existing state, local and federal laws with a single, unified, minimally pervasive regulatory regime.
The Federal Communications Commission would take a watchdog role, DeMint proposes, to investigate allegedly anticompetitive behavior by any electronic communications service.
The FCC would not make rules without first proving there was a clear threat to market, according to the bill. And it would have limited powers to give licenses and permits to vendors.
This goes against current draft broadband legislation currently being reviewed by the House of Representatives, which gives the FCC more regulatory power.