NEWS

Business leaders push telecom rewrite

Brian Feldt

More than 160 business leaders from across the state today urged lawmakers to quickly catch up with other states and modernize its telecommunications laws.

The proposal in House Bill 6425 would rewrite the Illinois Telecommunications Act, established in 1985 and last re-written in 2001. Some phone companies, led by giant AT&T, say the law treats companies that still offer landline phones unfairly.

Those companies now face stiff service quality regulations and fines for not meeting those on landlines. The current law, they argue, diverts money away from more cutting-edge purposes, such as broadband technology - and the state is falling further behind in innovation as a result.

"The job creators, the users of telecommunication services, are demanding today's most contemporary, latest technology," said Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, at a Statehouse news conference. "We want to send a message that Illinois is open for business and that this is a place where any employer or entrepreneur ... can set up shop and know they will be successful."