By Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, GLI’s VP of Government Affairs
In Stephen George’s piece on Jan. 28, Insider Louisville noted that residential gigabit service wasn’t coming to Louisville and said, “We don’t really know why Louisville keeps missing the cut.” Well, from our perspective, this isn’t just a Louisville-centric problem. This is a statewide concern.
In a 21st century global economy, development of our telecommunications infrastructure is as essential as roads, bridges and rail were in the last century. If we are to remain competitive, Kentucky needs to modernize its telecommunications laws to allow for investment in the technology infrastructure on which the jobs of the future will depend. Neighboring states like Indiana and Tennessee, in addition to most states across the Southeast, have already taken these steps.
We can take a step in that direction if our elected officials in Frankfort support Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 152.
For the fourth year in a row, our leaders in Frankfort have the opportunity to bring our communications laws into the 21st century. Some of the laws that remain on our books today were written when the rotary dial phone was considered an innovative product.
Today, in the world of smartphones, of IP landlines that provide for voice and data needs, and of 24-7 connectivity, it is vital that we have laws in place that encourage communications providers to meet the needs of today’s consumers.
In order to remain competitive and to provide the services and content that Louisvillians and Kentuckians are demanding, the General Assembly should enact these bills that eliminate outdated regulations, encourage investment in modern wireless and broadband technologies, and maintain significant consumer protections.
It is difficult to over-state the importance of broadband connectivity in the world today.
We rely on it in our homes, in our offices, on the road, in our schools, in our health care facilities, in manufacturing facilities, and in our government. It can be said that the need for robust connectivity is pervasive across all communities.
But as long as Kentucky law requires communications companies to continue investing in outdated communications infrastructure – thus limiting capital that can be invested in new networks – we will continue to fall behind our neighboring states where the business environment is more receptive to investment in communications infrastructure.
By taking this important first step, we will also unleash the potential for job creation. In addition to cultivating an environment for investment in networks that can make small businesses more competitive, increasing opportunities in our schools, and providing greater resources to our health care providers for diagnoses and treatments, this bill represents jobs. A recent report by Deloitte projects that 15,000 jobs are created from every $1 billion invested in mobile wireless broadband.
If Kentucky fails to act again this year, we will risk losing jobs to areas that have reformed their regulations to match marketplace demands. We can wait no longer. Access to phone service has not diminished in the other 17 states that have passed similar legislation, and the strength of our economy moving forward relies on passage of this bill.
Our residents, our students, our business owners, our health care providers, and our community leaders agree – the time for action is now. Let’s pass this legislation and take a necessary step toward 21st century communications laws in Kentucky.
Sarah Davasher-Wisdom is vice president of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Greater Louisville Inc., the city’s chamber of commerce.