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SB-157 Would Kill Hundreds of Jobs in Colorado in Order to Create a Massive New Government Bureaucracy, According to CenturyLink
Mar 11, 2012 (04:03 PM EDT)
Supposed "Telecommunications Modernization Act" would put Coloradans out of work
DENVER, March 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Lawmakers introduced a bill in the Colorado State Senate on Thursday that would slash jobs statewide and risk hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in broadband. Sponsored by Sen. Mark Scheffel (R – District 4), SB-157 seeks dramatic telecommunications reform at the expense of the customers and employees of a single carrier, CenturyLink, the largest telecommunications provider in Colorado.
By preventing CenturyLink from recouping costs to serve rural and high-cost service areas, SB-157 could harm more than 400,000 customers in Colorado who will likely no longer be able to receive affordable service. The bill diverts more than $60 million per year with millions going to international long distance carriers, and creates a multi-million dollar fund within the Governor's Office of Information Technology. That fund, which lacks any control mechanisms, would reach more than $300 million over the next ten years.
"The High Cost Fund exists to ensure reliable phone service to Coloradans in areas that are very expensive to serve," said Kenny Wyatt, mountain region president for CenturyLink. "Operating and maintaining a network in the most remote parts of our state come at a cost – one that has been funded by the High Cost fund for many years. We must also remember those customers include schools, libraries and health care institutions in those markets. This bill seeks to take support away from our customers and the dedicated employees who serve them."
The $60 million not only represents paychecks for hundreds of the 6,800 CenturyLink employees who live and work in Colorado, but also thousands of other jobs that are created by continued investment in broadband networks in Colorado.
"We disagree with the premise of this bill, that a massive new government bureaucracy is the best way to produce needed jobs in Colorado. Passage of SB-157 will eliminate good jobs in Colorado, period," said Jim Campbell, regional vice president for legislative affairs for CenturyLink. "That's bad public policy at a bad time."
The drastic change of the regulatory landscape introduced with SB-157 puts at risk Colorado's share of billions of dollars set aside by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for broadband development through the Connect America Fund.
"The entire telecommunications industry is working with the FCC to determine how to best utilize billions of dollars to build out broadband in unserved and underserved areas," said Wyatt. "Changing the rules in Colorado right now puts at risk any chance of Colorado benefitting from that potential investment."
SOURCE CenturyLink, Inc.