Date of this Version
Cornhusker Economics, June 7, 2000, agecon.unl.edu/cornhuskereconomics
With the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the pace of regulatory change increased exponentially. The impact on rural areas is significant; the issues specific to Southern states and communities unique. This report provides a brief history of telecommunications regulation and an overview of the key elements of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Innovations in state telecommunications regulations, as well as a summary of actions taken by Southern states since the 1996 Act was adopted, are discussed. After this whirlwind tour of telecommunications regulation, the report examines the evidence for the importance of telecommunications technology in rural areas and reviews key technology innovations that hold promise for rural areas. Finally, a checklist of items that state and local decision-makers need to consider when defining telecommunications policy for their regions is presented. This report is intentionally brief; where appropriate, references to web sites or other resources are provided. In addition, a review of topics that have been addressed by public service commissions in Southern states reveals that different states have addressed various issues in unique ways.