NEW WILMINGTON, PA. Forum explores changes to telecommunications regulations

A law regulating high-speed access is expiring in 2003.
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. -- Experts from the area will gather at Westminster College to tell state legislators how rural Pennsylvania has fared on high-speed telecommunications access.
The Pennsylvania Senate Communications and High Technology Committee will conduct a public hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Russell Building Banquet Hall of Westminster College.
The hearing will look at the current state of the telecommunications network in Pennsylvania. Two more hearings are slated later this month in Centre and Bucks counties.
The committee, which includes state Sen. Bob Robbins of Greenville, R-50th, is looking at updating the state's law and requirements for high-speed telecommunications. The current law was written in 1993 and does not include regulations for cable or satellite access, said Donald Houser, administrative assistant to state Sen. Jake Corman of Centre, R-34th, chairman of the committee.
The panel is also checking on the telephone industry, which is addressed in the law, he said.
"There may be some customers in rural Pennsylvania who only have access to telecommunications through a dial-up connection that isn't as fast as computers that are now being sold," Houser said.
Goal of evaluation
The law is intended to ensure that all parts of the state are capable of offering high-speed telecommunications, which helps with economic development, he said.
The committee will hear from local economic development officials, local independent telephone-company officials, experts in the telecommunications industry and a wide variety of individuals who will discuss the rural needs of telecommunications customers.
The public is invited to attend.

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