Guest Column: New telecom regs offer benefits to consumers, tech sector
The persistence of Colorado’s legislators is about to pay off, and Coloradans will benefit. For the past four years, state legislators have attempted to reform Colorado’s outdated telecommunications regulations. And every year, those attempts failed — until now. A package of telecommunications bills passed the House and Senate and were signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper. This is exciting news for our state, particularly for consumers.
The Colorado Telecommunications and IP Modernization Reform package consists of measures that will expand access to fast, reliable broadband connectivity to the entire state, including rural and underserved areas, while also protecting consumers and public safety. People will enjoy additional choices and options for better broadband and voice services. That means easier access to health care, higher education, telecommuting jobs, entrepreneurship opportunities and entertainment. Widespread access to next-generation networks and 21st century connectivity will enable these and other capabilities for people, delivering opportunities for stronger communities and enhanced quality of life.
Most folks have already made the switch from yesterday’s landlines. Plain old telephone service simply doesn’t offer the flexibility, convenience, speed and capacity of today’s advanced communications networks, and as a result, fewer people rely on it. About 38 percent of adults in the U.S. live in wireless-only households, and in Colorado, that number is closer to half.
Today’s telecommunications are popular among all age groups, too. Recently-released research from Older Americans Technology Services and the New York Law School reveals that over half of seniors who are online would find it “very hard” to give up the internet.
Various cutting-edge innovations appear with almost lightning-fast frequency, and people from all walks of life are eager to adopt technologies and devices they can use to improve their lives, accomplish goals, perform tasks and overcome challenges.
For example, HD voice services can help those with hearing losses talk on the phone again, and numerous mobile apps and wireless devices can help people with vision loss find specific places or items. Additionally, many people can benefit from the use of wearable biosensors that can help them summon help in an emergency or locate a loved one in need of assistance. But for many folks, the ability to maintain a reliable, fast connection to those we care about and to the information we need, from no matter where we happen to be, are the most crucial benefits of broadband connectivity.
Consumers aren’t the only ones who will gain from this package of laws. Our burgeoning tech sector will benefit, too. These reforms create regulatory certainty, eliminating obsolete rules that had been in place since 1987. The modern regulations are designed to promote private investment, encourage economic growth and unleash innovation. These laws received bipartisan, statewide and regional support, and now, Colorado has joined over 30 other states that have passed similar legislation.
But Colorado is unlike those other states in one especially important way: Our state is a top tech hotspot. We have successfully attracted tech entrepreneurs, investors and the country’s best tech talent, and Colorado is home to an impressive number of startups and high-tech companies. Without those old rules in place to hinder progress, Colorado can continue to compete and win on the national stage.
Modern telecom regulations for Colorado will help us move forward, reaping the benefits of widespread access to advanced technologies and broadband-based communications. Promoting 21st century connectivity throughout Colorado will help our people improve their lives, and rules that encourage increased investment and innovation will help our state continue to lead the way into an exciting, broadband-enabled future.
Michael Price is the executive director of the Coalition for a Connected West.
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