Legislation Seeks Fairness through Reform Process
PORTLAND, Maine (June 13, 2011) - Governor Paul LePage has signed into law a bill to direct the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) to develop a plan to reform telecommunications regulation in the state. The bill directs the MPUC to submit the plan to the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology by December 31, 2011.
The telecommunications industry is rapidly changing and the bill, sponsored by Rep. Stacey Fitts, R-Pittsfield, sets a state goal of creating a regulatory structure ensuring a level playing field for all telecommunications providers, in order to foster continued competition and ensure a free market for telecommunications services.
"I believe this is a landmark bill that represents a revolutionary change for the telecommunications industry in this state," said Fitts, the House chairman of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. "Revamping and updating Maine's telecommunications regulation clearly shows businesses and investors outside of Maine that our state is serious about being a business-friendly state that invites economic development and investment."
The legislation proposes to take a modern telecom approach to regulatory policy reflecting today's highly competitive marketplace and charting a new and progressive role for regulators. The current regulatory structure often puts the incumbent local exchange carriers at a distinct competitive disadvantage, as it competes with entities such as wireless and cable providers that do not operate under the same regulations.
The bill provides guidelines for the MPUC to follow in developing the plan, sets a timeline for considering the bill during the second regular session of the 125th Legislature and targets dates for implementation of the plan.
According to the supporters of the bill, the plan must reflect regulatory burdens that should be the minimum to protect the public welfare; different modes of telecommunications services should be regulated the same; and should not result in any provider being required to submit to a net increase in regulatory burden. It also makes several immediate changes to the current regulatory structure to jumpstart the reform process.
"We look forward to working with the governor, the Maine Public Utilities Commission, and the Legislature to develop a regulatory environment that encourages ongoing private investment in the state's communications infrastructure
and recognizes a competitive market leads to a stronger economy and greater opportunities for Maine's residents and businesses," said Mike Reed, FairPoint's Maine state president.
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