Tennessee has joined a number of states in recent years reviewing a costly and antiquated telecom regulatory regime called "intrastate access charges." In short, the rules are price controls on long-distance phone calls that have the exact same economic effect as a hidden tax. Dating back to the 1980s, states have set the rate for one phone company to connect to another's network artificially high. It amounts to a multi-million dollar subsidy for a select few companies that is paid for by consumers through higher phone bills.
On Tuesday, Digital Liberty's Kelly William Cobb testified before the Tennessee Senate Commerce Committee in favor of reforming these rules to save consumers millions of dollars per year. Eliminating these inflated fees would also level the playing field for companies, since under the government's rules many VoIP phone providers aren't subject to the rules, allowing them to offer lower-cost service. This means greater competition and lower overall phone costs for all consumers.