S.5769 / A.8459
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT
Unshackle Upstate, a non-partisan, pro-taxpayer, pro-economic growth, education and advocacy coalition made up of business and trade organizations from all parts of Upstate New York, supports the enactment of this bill.
This legislation amends the Public Service Law to clarify the authority of the Public Service Commission (PSC) with respect to Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) services. It directs the PSC to refrain from regulating the rates, terms and conditions of retail VoIP services delivered over the Internet.
The bill specifically provides that it does not affect the assessment of E-911 fees, telecommunications relay service fees, or federal Universal Service Fund fees on VoIP services. Nor does it alter existing state consumer protection laws, or any other laws of general application that apply to the operation of businesses in the state, such as those prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices.
Unshackle Upstate supports this long-overdue modernization of the state’s telecommunications law, which will foster growth in VoIP communications, investment in the state, and will encourage competition in the telecommunications industry.
A less onerous regulatory structure for Internet-based telephony will be good for consumers, who will benefit from greater competition in services and lower prices. It will be especially beneficial to consumers living in rural areas of Upstate New York, as VoIP brings the potential for jobs and new economic opportunities. Greater access to VoIP will enable rural businesses to change the way they do business, and create the possibility for rural communities to create higher-paying information age jobs.
We note that in their 2011 work, 8 of the state’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) identified the need to improve their region’s telecommunication’s infrastructure in order to grow jobs. While this legislation is just one small step in that direction, it will demonstrate to business leaders throughout the state that New York’s leaders are committed to improving the economic climate and creating jobs.
It is essential that New York State enact policies that promote continued private sector investment in its telecommunications network. If we fail to do so, New York may surrender our central role in the global economy. Upgrading our existing “rotary telephone regulatory structure” to reflect the current realities of the “smartphone world” is a good first step.
For these reasons, Unshackle Upstate supports the enactment of this legislation.
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