The City of Naperville continued its opposition to Illinois House Bill 1500, the Cable and Video Competition Law of 2007, through testimony before the House Telecommunications Committee on March 22. As a result, the Committee Chairman declared that HB 1500 will be amended.
Proposed by AT&T, HB 1500 would provide preferential treatment to the telecom giant and strip local municipalities of franchising power. The proposed law would mandate statewide franchising without local municipal input. If passed, the Illinois Commerce Commission would have the power to grant state-issued authorization to cable and video companies, eliminating the rights of municipalities to govern the service providers for their areas.
On March 22, Representative Brosnahan, Chairman of the House Telecommunications Committee convened a meeting to discuss HB 1500. The City of Naperville joined the Attorney General’s Office, the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus, and the Illinois Municipal League to offer testimony opposing the Bill. During the meeting, members of the committee gained insight from industry experts and municipalities about the impact the technology would have on public right-of-ways and obtained knowledge on Internet Protocol Television technology and its impact on competition.
In general, the testimony supported competition against cable. However, indicated that HB 1500, as initially written provides poor consumer protections and a competitive advantage to telecommunications companies.
According to testimony by Terry Miller, senior assistant city attorney, City of Naperville, “despite attempts to frame it otherwise, HB 1500 constitutes nothing more than a blatant attempt by telecoms to exempt themselves from existing Illinois regulations.” Miller continued his testimony by asserting “HB 1500 failed to conserve the finite resources of the public right of way, failed to protect the public against poor right of way construction, failed to enforce antidiscrimination provisions, encouraged redlining, encouraged data mining of private internet surfing habits, personal television viewing habits, and promoted the violation of private VoIP telephone conversations.”
Following Miller’s testimony, the Committee requested a transcript and notes. Subsequent to the hearing, HB 1500 was referred to the Rules Committee for further consideration. No further hearings on HB 1500 have been determined at this point, however the city is encouraged by the Chairman’s desire to amend the Bill and hope further discussions will prove that HB 1500 is unnecessary.