Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wisconsin Telecommunication Bill AB 14: too many losers

In response to a letter from some business people and various groups, who want immediate action to overhaul the state's telecommunications system, Wisconsin legislators drafted AB 14, and are rushing to get it through before citizens are aware of it. At least, that is how it appears.

Supporters of the bill praise its economic aspects of creating/retaining over 50,000 infrastructure jobs, and impacting the state economy by $2.6 billion. It is also touted for making Wisconsin more competitive for new, high-tech jobs.

I usually applaud modernization, de-regulation and job creation. But this legislation has far-reaching ramifications with definate winners, but too many losers for decades to come.

And the winners are:
*The wireless/broadband industry and businesses that use them to gain jobs, efficiency and profits.
*People who work in wireless-related jobs.
*Individuals who like to use wireless telecommunications devices.
*Legislators, who will receive donations from happy wireless/broadband users.
*The state economy (which is important, so why did they have to omit accountability measures in the bill, making it impossible to support?)

The losers include:

*Any telecom customer who is not treated fairly due to the AB 14 clause (#9) that allows the industry to use "unjust discrimination among customers," and employ "certain unfair trade practices," which were previously prohibited. (#16)
*Any customer who has a problem of any nature with a telecom company, since AB 14 removes any accountability the industry may have had to the Public Service Commission by April 2013.
*Landline telephone providers and all their workers, since they will lose funding to continue jobs and services.
*People who prefer landlines for their unique benefits, including privacy, emergency capability and safety, as compared to cell phones, which are also not conclusively proven to be biologically harmless.
*Wisconsin residents with medical implants, who can experience interference from cell phones, and need landlines.
*Wisconsin residents who cannot use wireless devices due to Electro-sensitivity, a disabling condition recognized by the WHO.
*Legislators, who will not be supported by the people left behind in this bill.
Wisconsin legislation should not be creating losers when it comes to statewide access to essential emergency and communications services, and individuals' control over their health and safety. Please tell state legislators to re-write AB 14 with more respect for the needs and rights of Wisconsin consumers and residents.

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