COMMUNICATIONS OPPORTUNITY, PROMOTION, AND ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2006
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support this rule and to support the bill, H.R. 5252, the COPE Act as we have called it. And I want to take a moment and thank Chairman Barton and Chairman Upton for their excellent work on this bill. I also want to thank Congressman Wynn who has worked with me on video choice and franchising and on these issues. It has been a bipartisan bill and it has been a 1-year debate, and I thank him for his leadership and his participation on this issue.
I think it is important to note that this bill came out of committee on a strong bipartisan vote, 42-12, and there is a reason that that happened. The reason for that is our constituents know that when we pass this bill that they are going to see greater access to broadband. They are going to have that coming into their communities, and they are going to have greater access. This is good for them, it is good for their communities, and it is good for economic development in those areas.
Our constituents believe that they have the right, that they should have the opportunity, that they should have the access to something more than one single cable provider, one set of rabbit ears or a satellite; and I agree with them. Government regulation has created the artificial marketplace that exists today, and it is a market that does mean higher prices for our consumers.
There is another point that has been mentioned a couple of times. Some of these so-called D.C.-based groups that lobby for our cities I think have had a little bit of a problem understanding the bill or reading the bill. So I would like to clarify a couple of things there.
New entrants into the video service market would be responsible for the same franchise fees that the incumbent operators pay, and our cities would be receiving those same fees from the new entrants, as well as those incumbent companies. Many times, if you have got an incumbent company, you add one to it that gives you two companies. So you know there is some opportunity there.
New entrants would also provide the same government and education channels. We call those PEG channels. They are going to be included. Cities also maintain control over their rights-of-way.
Now, we know that competition works. We have seen it work in Keller, Texas, and Herndon, Virginia, and in other areas where we have brought in new entrants into the video service market. We know that speeds up broadband. We are 16th worldwide in broadband deployment. So let us speed that up.
Another thing on net neutrality. That is a nice fuzzy sounding name, but if we were to see the amendment being offered today, we would have a net not so neutral and have a Secretary of Internet Access that would be overseeing how we approach that issue. So I would encourage a ``no'' vote on that amendment.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the time.
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