On February 8th 1996, then President Bill Clinton signed into law the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that had been approved by the United States 104th Congress, on the same day in history on which the first proceeding of of the U.S. Congress was first televised in 1947 Isn't that an irony.
A little history on the background of this Congressional Act and how it was approved in Congress. "Wireless communications companies offering cellular phones, mobile radio, personal communications systems and the like were having two kinds of problems. They needed to blanket an area quickly with strategically located base transmitters, so that their customers could enjoy service throughout the whole area, but they were running into local opposition to the erection of towers carrying these transmitters. Also, they needed to interconnect with existing telephone companies in order to serve their customers, but wanted exclusion from long-distance equal access requirements and from local exchange carrier interconnection obligations.
So they lobbied Congress to legislate these problems out of existence. Congress obliged by passing the TC Act. Congress obliged the industry and was railroaded, when the TC Act came to the floor for a vote. Usually, the members of Congress are given some time to read a bill and consider it, before voting on it. But that was not true for the TC Act. In both the House and the Senate, there was about an hour and a half of debate on it, and then the vote was taken. Not a single member of Congress had had an opportunity to read the bill that was being voted on. (Congressional Record, February 1, 1996, pages S686-S721 and Hi 145-Hi 179.)"
Here is what Warren J. Sirota is an independent management consultant who has worked at the forefront of information technology for over twenty-two years expects that consumers, are likely to see over the next several years:
Cable TV rates will rise.
Local telephone rates will go down for business customers.
Local telephone rates for consumers will stay the same or rise.
There will be consolidation among the large players in their traditional segments.
A loophole was interweaved into the initial legislation to allow Congress to alter the deployment date of this legislation at the convenience of the telecommunication industry. Well finally that day is approaching and on February 17, 2009 all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting on analog signals the airwaves will become digital.