The Iowa House has voted to deregulate Qwest, Frontier and Telecom — and some legislators argue it may lead to cheaper phone service for Iowans. Representative Willard Jenkins, a republican from Waterloo, says the industry has come a long way from his youth when his family had a phone that was a brown box that hung on a wall and had the number F-one-two. “You know, this is significant legislation,” Jenkins says. “It’s the change of an era.” Representative Ralph Watts, a republican from Adel, was the bill’s floor manager. Watts says telephone companies will have many stormy issues ahead as other technologies proliferate. “This bill will not address any of those concerns, but it will allow open competition in the marketplace.” Watts says the bill won’t protect any telephone company, but it will allow the market to work without regulatory interference. He says when the market is allowed to work, experience shows investment in facilities will follow. Representative Janet Peterson, a democrat from Des Moines, says while the bill ends regulation of telephone line rates, but state officials will still have some authority to rule on quality issues. “With this bill, Iowa is kind of leading the parade on deregulation,” Peterson says. She says phones have changes a lot over the years — kids are talking over the Internet now. Representative Phil Wise, a democrat from Keokuk, says it’s an amazing bill. Wise says it’s “truly amazing” that this deregulation bill wasn’t that controversial because in 1995, Iowa legislators quibbled for hours and hours over the first step to deregulating the telephone industry.
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