In my home state of New Jersey, a movement is afoot to ensure that the regulation of modern technologies is congruent with modern sensibilities about how best to promote consumer interests, digital entrepreneurial opportunities and business growth. The goals: making technology more accessible by making it more affordable, and creating jobs and economic opportunities for all New Jerseyans – young, old, black, brown and white.
To achieve this, a bipartisan group of New Jersey legislators crafted the Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act, which takes a fresh look at the way telephone and cable television services are regulated in New Jersey. The driving principle behind this Act, presently before the state Senate, is simple: competition, rather than regulations developed for the now-defunct monopoly Bell Telephone Company, drives innovation and investment in the market – enabling consumers to receive more robust service offerings at lower rates.
While maintaining important franchise, local government and consumer protections, this Act will provide a state of the art framework to address the regulation of communications in the digital era. The regulations currently in place were enacted more than 35 years ago and do not take into account the explosive growth and competition in this sector over the past 15 years.
The beauty of the New Jersey legislation is that the big telecom and cable companies are kept in check by a competitive atmosphere that allows for the greatest opportunities for growth, entrepreneurial development and lower prices for consumers. It doesn’t get any better than this. At a time when New Jersey needs more jobs, young consumers demand more choices and older consumers need lower bills, we don’t want to stifle innovation or discourage companies from investing in one of the most stable and promising markets in our economy.
The Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act is more than a step in the right direction for New Jersey. It is a model that other states should follow. It’s a dynamic leap forward toward bringing communications policy up to speed with where communications technology and competition are now, and where they will go in the future.
It is at times like this that I can truly say, I am proud to be a New Jerseyan. I hope the New Jersey Senate passes this bill quickly and the rest of the nation follows our lead.