For more than a century, the State of Wisconsin had a straightforward mission when it came to regulating what we now call “telecommunications.” That’s because telecommunications itself was a straightforward technology: It was two-way, voice-grade, analog-wired service.

In short, telecom was a plain black telephone.

Today, telecommunications is defined broadly to reflect a tidal wave of change in the age of digital computing and the Internet. The early 21st century meaning of telecommunications is the transmission and distribution of multiple forms of data – voice, text, video, music and more – through a variety of means.

But don’t print that definition in indelible ink. Technology could change it tomorrow.

Seemingly overnight, the revolution in telecommunications has shattered rules that generations believed to be unwavering. It is why Wisconsin should overhaul how it regulates telecom providers.

Wisconsin’s ability to compete fully in the global economy increasingly rests on the ability of the state – from its major cities to its small communities – to gain access to the latest telecom tools. That is unlikely to happen, however, in a regulated environment that ignores consumer adoption of new technologies that defy regulation in the traditional sense.

Read full Journal Sentinel commentary by Tom Still here.