Colorado lawmakers abandon state's rural voice services reform legislation

Colorado legislators have decided to abandon their recent effort to realign the state's telecom service regulations on traditional voice services over concerns that it would face too many court challenges if passed.

On Monday, Sen. Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, the bill's lead sponsor, asked Colorado's Senate Business Labor and Technology committee to vote to "shelve the bill."

In its current form, Senate Bill 262 focused on deregulating traditional PSTN voice services in Colorado cities and towns that already had three or more service providers offering voice for about two years.   

The proposed legislation wanted to create a means to regulate VoIP services, while gradually phasing out annual state subsidies for rural phone service and having service providers charge one common price to terminate long-distance calls whether either within the state or if they crossed state lines.  

However, CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), which became the state's largest rural service provider in Colorado through its acquisition of Qwest in April, could lose millions in state rural subsidies, opposed the proposed regulations.

Jim Campbell, vice president of regulatory and legislative affairs for CenturyLink, told the Denver Business Journal in a written statement that the bill would actually hamper broadband investment and hurt competition.  

"We appreciate Senator Scheffel's commitment to work with the telecommunications industry to reduce Colorado's regulatory environment and to encourage investment in the infrastructure of our state. Unfortunately, the bill that was introduced falls short of the mark and, in its present form, will increase regulation, discourage investment and slow broadband deployment in rural Colorado," he said.

For more:
- The Denver Business Journal has this article

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