“two decades ago”

The state Public Utility Regulatory Authority covers a lot of territory. Cable has been only one part and community access programming is only one part of cable. In an attempt to understand why community access isn’t getting more attention, we listen when the current chairman reaches out to the public and to the General Assembly. One recurrent phrase is “about two decades ago,” when some kind of deregulation happened.

August 31, 2021 – the Pete Mezzetti Show

In the second half of the show, host Mezzetti reads a couple of questions from viewers about PURA’s relation to cable and to community access. His guest, the PURA chair says,

…about two decades ago when the industry was deregulated, that unfortunately–it’s hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube, right?–when the industries were deregulated, we ceded, as a state, a lot of jurisdictional authority to the federal government. So in some ways– there are no ways of going back….

“As a state” seems to refer to PA 07-253, where Internet Protocol Television (in the form of AT&T’s U-Verse) was written into state statutes as “certified competitive video service. 2007 was only 14 years before this statement.

A previous co-chair of the General Assembly’s Energy & Technology committee, when hearing from people about the unintended consequences of PA 07-253, said, “The horse is out of the barn on that one.”

December 9, 2022 – League of Women Voters of Greenwich lunchtime forum

In a Zoom webinar, the PURA chair says,

… but a couple of decades ago, nationwide, the decision was made that the cable and internet industries--well, the internet didn’t exist at the time— that there was adequate competition in those services and as such because it was deemed that there was adequate competition, the ability of the state regulators to reach in and regulate the prices and terms of these cable (now internet) providers are charging was removed.

(1) A couple of decades before 2022, was 2002. Although things were different then, we’re pretty sure a form of the internet existed then. Information traveled by the same means on wirelines, if not on wireless mobile systems. The Internet Archive holds web records as far back as 1995. (27 years before that quote) So, perhaps the chair meant that internet service wasn’t the fully-formed, voracious industry we know today?

(2) What happened nationwide around 2002? The U-Verse/cable deregulation in various states was seen coming as early as 2006 (16 years before this quote). Maybe that was it. “Adequate competition” was certainly the argument behind PA 07-253. At federal level, the FCC and the then AT&T chair (“my pipes”) were wrangling over Net Neutrality, more in the public spotlight.

January 31, 2023 – CT General Assembly Energy & Technology committee informational forum

…up to 40% of the calls that we get in a year are questions & complaints about internet service, cell phone service, cable providers… and unfortunately that sector was deregulated about 2 decades ago or more….

If internet and cable service are bringing up the most complaints to the PURA call center, isn’t that a sign that something went wrong with deregulation?

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