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FreedomWorks Co-Chairman Dick Armey Speaks at ALEC
Armey makes the case for telecom reform and franchise competition
By Adam Brandon on August 03, 2005
GRAPEVINE, TX. On Thursday, August 4, 2005, former House Majority Leader and current FreedomWorks Co-Chairman Dick Armey delivered a luncheon address at the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Armey discussed the importance of reforming the telecommunications sector, including outdated franchise laws that needlessly restrict competition and reduce consumer choice. “Digital information has eliminated distinctions between telecommunications providers. Today all providers, including phone companies and cable companies are striving to deliver the 1’s and 0’s that make-up today’s data transmissions,” said Armey.
For example, cable is already the dominant broadband provider, by a 2-to-1 margin, and cable is also already in the telephone market. The new fault line in the debate over competition is now phone company entry into the video programming market, in head-to-head competition with cable companies. These new forms of competition offer consumers better, more innovative service, more choices, and more competition to keep prices in check.
At the meeting of state legislators, Armey praised his home state of Texas for trying to take early action on this important issue, “Texas has always been a leader when it comes to telecommunications. We were ahead of the federal government in enacting sweeping telecommunications reform in 1995, and we are again at the cutting edge of the debate. In 2005 Texas lawmakers again have produced a very pro-consumer bill, which is still waiting to be passed in the current special session. They need to pass school finance before they can vote on telecom reform, but the votes are there. It’s clear that the vast majority of legislators want investment and choice.”
Armey urged state legislators nationwide to move the issue forward at the state level while urging their delegations in Congress to do the same: “Take the lead in your states. Texas is the only place where things are moving, but the call for competition and choice should be heard in every state. This is one of the single most significant opportunities to influence the national debate. You can make a difference at the state level and send a message to Washington that franchise reform is an important issue for consumers and the economy.”
Armey noted that the reforms provide important benefits to consumer: “Competition, not regulation, provides innovation, choice, and lower prices. We have seen this in the telephone voice market, and we could see the same thing in the video programming market if we eliminate outdated regulations.”