Editor's Note: CN|2 reported that the measure "sailed" through the Committee despite concerns.
Senate Economic Development Committee to Hear SB 88 - AT&Ts Effort to End Right To Basic Local Phone Service, On Monday Afternoon, February 11
Senate Bill 88, written by AT&T, would end the right of Kentuckians to obtain stand-alone basic telephone service.
Senate Bill 88 would:
• weaken consumer protection, by eliminating the regulatory power of the Public Service Commission over the reliability of basic local service;
• allow AT&T, Windstream and Cincinnati Bell to substitute less reliable wireless voice service for highly reliable landline basic phone service;
• end the right to obtain stand-alone basic phone service; and
• lessen public safety by allowing basic landline service to be replaced by wireless service that may not support home alarm systems.
What are the details of the bill?
• AT&T, Windstream, and Cincinnati Bell could immediately stop offering stand-alone basic local telephone service to any new residences, and to all existing customers in exchanges with more than 5,000 housing units.
• In exchanges with less than 5,000 housing units, those companies could immediately cease providing stand-alone landline basic phone service if they offer an “alternative voice service” (such as wireless “voice” service) or they could petition the state Public Service Commission to be relieved of the obligation to provide basic telephone service by meeting certain criteria regarding other providers of voice service in the area.
• “Voice service” can be provided through “any technology or service arrangement” that includes voice grade access, minutes of use for local service provided at no additional charge to end users, and access to the emergency services such as 911. Basic local service would no longer be required to be offered on a stand-alone basis, and could be “bundled” with other services that the customer might not need, nor be able to afford.
• The Public Service Commission would lose all regulatory authority to mandate levels of reliability and service, and could only “assist” in the resolution of consumer complaints. The PSC would also lose power to investigate and order the resolution of broadband complaints.
To learn more about SB 88, read KRC's letter to the Senate Economic Development Committee.
If you believe that access to stand-alone, reliable phone service should remain a right, please contact your state Senator and Representative, and ask them to oppose AT&Ts Senate Bill 88. Ask the members of the Senate Economic Development Committee to oppose the bill, by calling toll-free to 1-800-372-7181 and leaving a message, or by emailing the Committee members.
below: SB 88 and its all Republican list of sponsors
SB 88 (BR 1003) - P. Hornback, J. Carpenter, J. Higdon, J. Schickel
AN ACT relating to telecommunications. Create a new section of KRS 278.541 to 278.544 to establish an alternative regulation plan for telephone utilities that operate under the price regulation plan in KRS 278.543; eliminate Public Service Commission regulation of terms, conditions, rates, and availability of service, except basic local exchange service; require electing utilities to continue to offer basic local exchange service to existing customers in some exchanges; provide that an electing utility may be relieved of that obligation if there is alternative service available; exempt an electing utility from KRS 278.020(5) and (6), relating to commission approval of change of ownership or control, KRS 278.230(1) and (2), relating to commission access to utility books and records, KRS 278.250, relating to the commission's right to investigate the condition of the utility, and KRS 278.510, relating to commission approval of consolidation with other utilities; amend KRS 278.54611 to remove commission jurisdiction over resolution of consumer complaints and end commission authority to develop standards for eligible telecommunications carriers; provide that the commission may ensure that carriers comply with FCC rules; amend KRS 278.5462 to end commission jurisdiction over consumer complaints concerning broadband service.
Feb 5-introduced in Senate Feb 7-to Economic Development, Tourism & Labor (S)