TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pa. telecom rules stuck in the past

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Steve Forbes
Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

The natural gas industry has brought tremendous economic benefits to Pennsylvania. In recent years, this growing industry has invested billions of dollars in the commonwealth to develop an environmentally responsible way to harness natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale rock formations.

The overall impact of this effort has been dramatic — bringing affordable energy solutions to consumers; creating thousands of high-paying jobs; generating nearly $2 billion in tax revenue for the state; and restoring economic prosperity to many Pennsylvanians.

As the industry has developed, elected leaders in the Keystone State have enacted wise public policies to ensure Pennsylvanians continue to reap the benefits of this burgeoning industry for years to come while at the same time protecting the state's natural resources.

Another industry critical to Pennsylvania's economic health is the telecommunications sector. This industry has undergone a fundamental transformation as new technologies have redefined how, when and where we communicate. Today, most communications are Internet-based and inherently mobile.

With the popularity of new technologies growing, the number of landline customers in Pennsylvania has declined at an astonishing rate. In 2003, Verizon, one of several landline providers in Pennsylvania, had 5.7 million phone lines. Today, it has fewer than 2.4 million.

This example is not unique to Pennsylvania. As consumers across the country decide to “cut the cord,” traditional phone companies like AT&T and Verizon continue to lose business.

But regulations governing telecommunications in Pennsylvania have not kept pace with the realities of the Digital Age. Cable and wireless companies have an unfair advantage over legacy companies like AT&T and Verizon, which are forced to comply with costly, outdated restrictions that divert precious resources to older technologies when they could be better used to invest in newer technologies.

Unfortunately, special-interest groups such as the Communications Workers of America, professional consumer advocates and some regulators have made it their priority to keep telecom rules stuck in the past despite the fact that today's telecommunications market is vastly competitive. These groups have lobbied to keep “what was” in place instead of advocating for newer, better technologies and services for consumers.

What the special interests fail to acknowledge is that today's consumers demand speed and flexibility with their communications services, but the archaic regulations they advocate only distort the marketplace, handicap legacy companies, and tip the scales in favor of some industry players over others.

Pennsylvania's outdated rules and regulations must be reformed to enhance the business climate and ensure the state remains open to job-creating new investments. That can only happen if special interest groups, as well as regulatory bodies, release their grip on antiquated rules and arguments and embrace the new technologies that will lead us into the future.

Newer, high-speed networks hold tremendous promise for Pennsylvania. The time has come to retire unnecessary regulations designed long before anyone could imagine what today's world would look like.

Steve Forbes is chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media and co-author of “Freedom Manifesto: Why Free Markets Are Moral and Big Government Isn't.”

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Penguins trade Sutter to Canucks, sign free agent center Fehr
  2. Videos spur dozens to protest outside Pittsburgh Planned Parenthood
  3. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  4. Fulbright Scholarship sends Indiana Twp. man to Indonesia
  5. Famous African lion reportedly killed by American hunter
  6. DOD recommits to CMU software security center with $732M award
  7. Consol Energy reports deep loss, bigger Utica results
  8. Judge lets New Kensington Ten Commandments monument stand
  9. Steelers LB Timmons has grown into leadership role on defense
  10. Steelers notebook: Backup QB Gradkowski remains out with shoulder issue
  11. Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring