(Chicago, IL) — June 15, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law to modernize Illinois’ telecommunications law.
“Investment in broadband and wireless technology is a key to creating better jobs and providing unique educational opportunities across Illinois,” said Quinn.
The Illinois Telecommunications Act was written in 1985 – well before the widespread use of mobile phones and broadband Internet. Today, approximately 25 percent of Illinois households rely only on mobile phones.
The new law eliminates obsolete regulatory standards, which will enable telecom companies to shift more investment to wireless and broadband technologies. In Illinois, a 1% to 3% increase in broadband penetration would create 13,000 to 39,000 non-farm jobs, according to the Brookings Institution.
The legislation, Senate Bill 107, sponsored by State Senator Michael Bond (D-Grayslake) and State Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park), allows telecommunications companies to opt-in to a new form of regulation that will promote more competition and encourage more investment in modern broadband and wireless technologies.
The law extends low-cost packages that are designed to protect consumers who still rely on landline service, but have varying communication needs. Theses low-cost package rates will be frozen for the next three years.
“One of the most important aspects of this legislation was that we have safeguards in place to protect consumers in Illinois,” said Bond.
However, some consumer advocates disagree.
“Deregulation of telephone service is bad policy for Illinois consumers,” said Robert Gallo, state director for AARP Illinois. “… [T]here’s little guarantee that customers will be offered these low-cost options, in the wake of higher rates.”
“The signing of Senate Bill 107 considerably increases the possibility of greater private sector broadband investment in Illinois,” said McCarthy.
The Illinois Commerce Commission will retain the authority to impose penalties on providers who do not comply with general service quality requirements, which could amount to more than $200,000 per offense for a provider.
The Senate passed the bill 59-0 vote and the House 118-0.
The legislation takes effect immediately.