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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Members of the Illinois House Computer Technology Committee heard testimony today on the competitive benefits of HB 4152, the "Internet Access Enhancement Act," from GTE Regulatory Relations Director Edwin Shimizu. State Rep. Jeff Schoenberg's (D-Wilmette) bill would allow cable broadband consumers the ability to choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Currently, Illinois residents who use cable modem service are forced to buy the cable companies' affiliated ISP. Consumers who opt to choose a different ISP must pay extra for that privilege.
Shimizu explained that cable modems provide always-on lightning-fast Internet access but the transport, or physical connection, should be sold separately from the ISP that helps customers navigate the Internet. "Cable companies," Shimizu said, "can tighten their chokehold on the Internet if left unchecked, reaching their tentacles into every aspect of the business. We could lose the legacy of the wide open Internet that's put oceans of information at our fingertips and changed the way most people communicate. Representative Schoenberg is looking to the future to protect the free flow of information and promote competition."
Shimizu testified that the now booming ISP business could end if cable companies are allowed to shut them out of this emerging broadband market. "There are more than 6,000 ISPs in business today," he said, "many of them 'mom and pop' businesses that employ thousands of people. The cable industry's own figures show that about 70% of their customers dropped their existing ISP service after learning that they would have to pay twice to keep their own ISP and current email address.
"It's important for state legislatures, like Illinois, to step forward for the public good and loosen the cable companies' grasp on cable broadband services before it's too late. H.B. 4152 is pro-consumer and pro-competition."
More information about cable open access can be found at www.gte.com/aboutGTE/publicpolicy/openaccess.
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