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Story Archives: Rural locations could access cable by phone
|Rural locations could access cable by phone|
State Rep. Noble Ellington said a bill under consideration in the state House of Representatives has the potential to change the way rural residents get cable television.
Senate Bill 807 would allow telephone companies such as AT&T to provide subscription-based cable television service over existing telephone lines utilizing a technology known as "IP TV."
Representatives of AT&T were on hand in Baton Rouge Tuesday to provide lawmakers with answers to a number of questions, including the types of equipment needed.
Though telephone companies are not forbidden to provide cable television service, currently they must negotiate franchise fees with individual municipalities to bring service to a town.
"This bill would be a state-wide agreement to allow them to go into these towns without having to negotiate with every city and every town," Ellington said.
If adopted, SB-807 will allow those telephone companies to work with state officials in Baton Rouge to avoid such negotiations.
Under terms of SB-807, telephone providers would pay not more than 5 percent of their revenues in franchise fees to municipalities.
Also, the bill authorizes the creation of locally produced government or educational programming, if the municipality and phone companies desire such.
Ellington pointed out this is very similar to the same arrangement that allowed cable companies to begin providing telephone service over cable lines.
Centralizing the terms of the agreement could speed up deployment of the new technology, Ellington said."You can imagine how long and drawn out that project could be if they had to negotiate every city and every town," Ellington said.
Allowing telephone providers to provide cable service will give rural customers more programming choices, Ellington said.
"In Winnsboro or Wisner you really have no choice," Ellington said. "This will allow others to come in with better services or cheaper prices. Also coming in with that is internet."
Ellington said he expected SB-807 to be adopted without much legislative opposition.