Telecom reform key to growing businesses

By Dave Adkisson Guest Columnist

March 25, 2014

Communications technology is a critical component for the success of any business, large or small. It is equally important for every citizen of Kentucky. Whether sharing large volumes of data across the Internet or talking to mom on a wireless phone, we all depend upon technology to help us communicate better, faster and more effectively.

As an organization focused on keeping Kentucky ahead of the curve in terms of business and industrial leadership, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce understands we have to be open to change and progress. And nowhere does that change happen faster than with communications technology.

As broadband Internet technologies spread across the commonwealth, the benefits are numerous. Businesses become more effective and efficient, communications become more instantaneous, and customers become more accessible. Broadband technology doesn’t just enhance our lives — it also better connects our communities and facilitates job creation. A recent report by Deloitte projects that every $1 billion invested in mobile wireless broadband creates 15,000 jobs.

Here in the commonwealth, companies are already heavily investing hundreds of millions of dollars in building an advanced communications infrastructure, but we need more.

Over the past 15 years, the Internet has enabled as much economic growth as the Industrial Revolution generated in its first 50 years. Not coincidentally, this explosion occurred in an environment where policymakers and the private sector worked together to craft a modern policy framework that allowed technologies and innovations to flourish.

To ensure broadband and wireless technologies continue to prosper, it is crucial that our elected leaders support legislation that recognizes the proven success of a modern policy framework that promotes continued broadband investment and innovation.

That is why we are supporting Senate Bill 99, legislation that responds to widespread voice service competition by taking a much-needed step in reforming communications law to adapt to growing consumer demand for new technologies.

Current law directs investment into technologies that consumers are leaving in vast numbers and prevents that investment from being directed to expanding access to advanced broadband technologies.

SB 99 is about attracting new investment, creating and retaining jobs, protecting consumers, and building the new telecommunications infrastructure the commonwealth desperately needs to compete in a global marketplace.

Other states in our region — including Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina — have passed similar legislation, which has incentivized companies to bring jobs and infrastructure to their states. By reforming regulations to match marketplace demands, Kentucky can bring in more capital for technology investment. If Kentucky fails to act, we will risk losing new broadband infrastructure investment to other states that have proven to be more business friendly.

We are focused on creating and protecting a business-friendly environment, but we know we can’t do it without the support of our legislators. Working together, we can strengthen the state’s ability to create jobs, expand existing industry and ensure a healthier work force and economy.

And while we’re at it, we can make a better Kentucky for every citizen by opening up doors to new opportunities because of advances in communications technology. We urge lawmakers to support SB 99.

Dave Adkisson is president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce