Posted July 28, 2020 | The Huron Hub
Following decades of deregulation among Internet service providers in Michigan, State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown) introduced House Bill 5949 last week, which would grant the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) the authority and jurisdiction to regulate all providers of broadband service.
Telecommunications companies (Ameritech, AT&T, Michigan Bell, etc.) used to be rate-regulated so the companies had to come to the MPSC for permission to raise their rates, much like electric and natural gas utilities must do today.
However, the Michigan legislature deregulated and removed consumer protections in the telecommunications space through various changes to the Michigan Telecommunications Act over the last two decades, meaning telecommunications companies are no longer required to go before the Commission for permission to increase rates. Cable and internet companies have never had rates regulated so they would have never come to the Commission for purposes of rate-setting.
By regulating rate-setting processes for these large companies, we can help lower prices for consumers across our state and provide for improved consumer protection in the process.
“The Internet should be available to everyone, especially as more and more basic needs require access to affordable Internet, such as telehealth, teleworking, school, and even ordering groceries,” said Camilleri. “We regulate telephone, electric, and other essential services to prevent monopolies, but right now, Internet service providers can do whatever they want in setting their prices, slowing down Internet traffic, and more. By designating Internet as a public utility, we can finally add much-needed consumer protections and allow more people across our state to access the services they need.”
Article submitted by State Rep. Darrin Camilleri