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Broadband Bill Would Deregulate Video Services, Spur VoIP

The proposed law in the U.S. Senate would roll back current restrictions on video services and ensure access to voice over IP.
WASHINGTON — Telecommunications overhaul legislation introduced Wednesday (July 27) in the Senate would among other things roll back current restrictions on providing video services and assure consumer access to Internet-based phone service.

The Broadband Consumer Choice Act of 2005 was introduced by Sen. John Ensign, R. Nev. It is intended to replace provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Ensign said the proposal would eliminate requirements for video service providers to obtain a cable franchise agreement in order to provide video service. Telecom carriers such as Verizon have been seeking to offer video services over its new fiber network. Verizon recently won approval to offer video services in Herndon, Va., which is currently served by cable operator Cox Communications.

Ensign said his bill would also assure access to voice-over-IP services. It would also set federal standards for "timely and quality carrier service."

"This bill will create jobs, stimulate the economy and increase consumer choice," Ensign said in a statement.

HIgh-tech groups praised the braodband legislation. "We share [Ensign's] goals of removing barriers to innovation, promoting competition and sparking growth in the tech and services sector," the Information Technology Industry Council, said in a statement.