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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Tuesday signed into law House Bill 1279, which, in part, implements a statewide video franchising process.
Indiana follows Virginia and Texas in rewriting franchise laws that telcos say will give them the same benefits to market entry as the cable companies have had all along. The ILECs also say their entry into the video market will provide competition that will bring down prices and offer more choices for consumers. Meanwhile, cablecos have continued to argue that statewide franchising gives telcos an unfair advantage to market entry.
Several consumer groups earlier had lamented the possibility of HB 1279 being signed into law, calling it dangerous for consumers, but they had not commented on the bill as of late Wednesday afternoon. On the other hand, organizations such as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce FreedomWorks praised the bill for innovating the video services market, modernizing telecommunications regulations, and its capacity to save consumers money.
Cable companies have spent years negotiating case-by-case franchising contracts for video service with individual towns, cities and counties, but telcos looking to deploy IPTV have been working to change that process on the state and federal levels. The ILECs and some competitors want to change the video rules to grant statewide blanket franchises, allowing them to clear deployment hurdles faster and saving millions in transactional costs.
New video franchising rules also promise to make up a significant portion of any Congressional telecom reform, which has been on the table since last fall.