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Bill To Upgrade State’s Telecom Industry Has Bipartisan Support

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – A bill to upgrade the state’s telecommunications industry appears to have lots support on both sides of the party line.

Political Specialist Shaun Boyd say lawmakers behind the bill want everyone’s telephone bill to go to down, whether they have a landline or cell phone and no matter where they live.

But the state’s largest phone provide, CenturyLink says the bill could cost some customers their service entirely and it could cost the state hundreds of jobs.

Lawmakers contend the current regulations simply do not account for just how much telephones have changed.

“The wireless world changed everything,” explained Rep. Carole Murray, the Republican who represents Castle Rock. “Now those of us with smartphones notice no such thing as a local call or long distance calling.”

The bill would not only update regulations, it would lower long distance access charges and phase out a fee that subsidizes service in areas once considered rural, those include Parker, Aurora and Colorado Springs.

It adds up to a savings of about 3 percent a month or $3 on a $100 bill. It also calls for increased investment in broadband services in rural areas.

CenturyLink is the largest service provider in those areas and received some $50 million in subsidies last year alone.

“Unfortunately we’re going to have to go to our rural customers and them to increase the rates they pay,” was the reaction of CenturyLink’s Jim Campbell.

He said without those subsidies, it’s not cost effective to provide service in some rural areas.

Campbell also contends the bill singles out CenturyLink out while giving support to small independent carriers.

“We’re going to lose customers, lose access lines and that results in job loss, decreased investment and the ability to put capitol we want to put in rural Colorado which we serve 90 percent of,” he said.

Rep. Murray argues the bill will create jobs not cost them by opening up the model and challenges to CenturyLink to change with the times.

“If CenturyLink feels they’re targeted it’s probably because their business model is one that’s changing now and we need to adapt to a new environment.”

The bill would adds up to a savings of about 3 percent a month or $3 on a $100 bill.

The bill also calls for increased investment in broadband services in rural areas.

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