Colorado telecom reform legislation may start moving after senators' recall

The recent recall of two Colorado lawmakers--Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron--could be all that's needed to move telecommunications reform forward in the state, including resolving longtime acrimony over how to fund expanded broadband in rural areas.

Previous attempts to determine how--and how much--Colorado regulates IP-related services had been thwarted by Morse, who favored more state authority over VOIP, a story in the Colorado Statesman said. Key among this was the way broadband expansion would be funded in rural parts of the state.

"Most recently, Senate Bill 287 would have diverted a portion of the nearly $60 million ratepayer-funded High Cost Support Mechanism toward broadband expansion in unserved and underserved parts of the state," the story said, noting that the bill was introduced "at the prerogative of Morse."

"This was literally a personal project to him and he wanted to, in his own words, he wanted to build the 'Eisenhower tunnel of broadband,' and that was just an enormous subsidy," said Sen. Mark Scheffel, who reportedly has been fighting the reform battle for years.

With Morse out of the way, thanks to the recall, "it's a different dynamic," Scheffel continued.

Telecom executives are warily optimistic that the change will benefit the industry.

"We're anxious to see what the Senate leadership looks like in the next week or so. I hope this year has a much different outcome, a much more positive outcome for broadband consumers in the state," Bill Soards, president of AT&T (NYSE: T) Colorado told the publication.

Patrick Fucik, regional director of government affairs for Sprint (NYSE: S), added his own level of optimism to the shifting landscape, noting that Morse "wanted to add more money (and) we were trying to reduce the High Cost Fund in order to reduce the subsidies on our customers' bills."

Not everyone was happy to see Morse gone. Jim Cambpell, regional vice president of legislative affairs at CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), noted that Morse "moved the discussion forward regarding broadband."

For more:
- the Colorado Statesman carried this story

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