In his July 1 op-ed Calvin Blackwell makes a sound argument by saying cable TV competition is good for South Carolina. Unfortunately, he fails to acknowledge the competitive alternatives to cable service available thanks to the General Assembly’s foresight.
In 2006, under the leadership of Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell and Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell (then Senate President Pro Tem) the General Assembly passed video franchising legislation allowing local governments to open up their municipalities to the latest technologies available to citizens as a competitive alternative to cable.
When Professor Blackwell argues “the high cost of creating cable infrastructure tends to discourage competing companies,” it is simply not true. AT&T began offering South Carolinians an alternative to their video service needs in 2008, and today AT&T U-verse is available in 78 municipalities and counties including Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester.
The continued growth of AT&T U-verse in South Carolina proves that when legislators encourage innovation and competition, consumers will benefit. Companies such as AT&T took advantage of the General Assembly’s 2006 video service legislation to build an Internet Protocol (IP) network in South Carolina.
Through utilization of this technology, AT&T was able to offer U-verse. This service enables customers to watch their favorite shows using a TV, computer or more than 20 mobile devices.
We understand South Carolinians need convenient and affordable alternatives to current cable services. That’s why AT&T U-verse is the fastest growing TV service in the United States and has added more subscribers than any other major television provider since 2009.
This vibrant innovation and unsurpassed customer service isn’t the result of the increased government regulation that Professor Blackwell advocates, but rather it’s due to a competitive marketplace that encourages free market solutions. Rather than calling for regulatory action, we should study the lessons of our state leaders who implemented free market policies that encouraged investment to deliver benefits for South Carolinians.
John M. Mitchell
AT&T, Regional Director
External Affairs–Coastal Region