House approves simpler land line elimination rules

Michigan residents have steadily traded their land line phone service for cellphones over the past decade, and now state lawmakers are looking at making it easier for phone companies to quit offering the traditional service.
AP Wire
Mar 12, 2014

A Senate bill that would streamline regulations for phone companies ending the service after 2016 passed the House 71-39 Tuesday. It now goes back to the Senate with changes. Republicans control both chambers.

The legislation would transfer discontinuation approval authority from the state to the federal government, and would no longer require that at least two other companies offer services in an area where a third company wants to end traditional service. A phone company would need to notify its customers, the public and the state that it was proposing to end service, and notify them again when it received federal approval, at least 90 days before ending service.

The bill would also require that the Michigan Public Service Commission maintain a public database of land line service providers. The commission would field customer requests for investigations into unreliable access to 911 and emergency services. If it confirmed unreliable access, it could require a phone company to provide voice and emergency services, although not necessarily via traditional land lines.

Supporters say the legislation would help Michigan discard outdated technology that most residents have already dropped.

AT&T Michigan President Jim Murray said in a statement the bill would help the company invest in more efficient wireless communications and Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.

"It's amazing in the last 15 years, people are voting with their feet and choosing the better technologies, more modern technology, in terms of trying to allow for those investments to happen," Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, said. "This is what SB 636 allows us to do, and this continues to carry us into new investments in telecommunications."

Opponents of the bill include AARP Michigan, which says the legislation would leave some residents without affordable and reliable phone service. The group has questioned whether VoIP would be reliable in a power outage.

"We still have 2 million some people utilizing these lines," Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, said on the House floor. "All throughout the Upper Peninsula and I'm sure many of your areas, cell coverage is not really all that reliable just yet."

The number of traditional land lines in Michigan dropped from 6.7 million in 2000 to 2.6 million in 2012, according to the Federal Communications Commission. In the same period, the number of wireless lines increased from 3.5 million to 9.3 million. Another 1.4 million land line users were served with VoIP.

Senate Bill 636: http://1.usa.gov/1cv86dr

Comments

sirhansalot

Great idea, makes it much easier for the government to listen in our your conversation and store it when its digital.

rj18rad

I'm guessing the company who is tired of maintaining these lines even though they've been paid very well to do so and still get paid for the service from those of us who are using them is behind this move. They are very powerful companies with very powerful lobbies and I'm sure some of these candidates are being well compensated for their votes on this issue with contributions to their campaigns. This push by our legislature is certainly not to help the citizens of Michigan. You know the people these legislators are supposed to actually be working for. If someone wanted to track a citizen's movements and all they do on-line the best way to do it is through the citizens own cell phone.
Legislation like this is another example why Michigan needs a part-time legislature.

Interestedreader

I live in GHT cell phones are problematic,hope Rep. Ed can maintain my landline.

Lanivan

This is yet another instance of our highly-paid state legislators adopting an ALEC created state-based model communications legislation designed to remove regulation and oversight of, in this case, increasingly vital and important utilities.

Alec, a collusion of state legislators and corporations, has a large communications team that is comprised of several major communications companies that influence and approve model legislation. Documents reveal:

"On July 13, 2011, Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) released a massive collection of leaked documents from the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC) --- hundreds of model bills and resolutions that were previously voted on by ALEC corporate members and ALEC member politicians behind closed doors.

As Bill Moyers, Common Cause and others have outlined, the corporations are in the room with waiting and willing politicians who are members of ALEC and almost all of whom receive money from the corporations in the form of campaign financing; many also receive grant/foundation monies for their districts, making them look good.

In communications, the model legislation was designed by ALEC's "Communications & Technology Task Force".

There are two major ALEC model bills that have been used in this campaign to close down America's communications utilities - the PSTN - and customer obligations and oversight.

 The Advanced Voice Services Availability Act from 2007.
 ALEC Regulatory Modernization Act. from 2009.

The basic principles behind the state deregulatory campaign are to remove regulation and oversight, quality of service, competition, and customer protection. The strategy is to divide markets, set prices, limit protection and limit opportunities. The major communications companies are essentially attempting to leverage control of their networks to gain dominance of the markets through their influence and control as partners, members, lobbyists, and the final word on ALEC model legislation.

This is a far more insidious, stealthy, misleading, and deceptive piece of legislation with long-term, far-reaching implications than meets the eye.

I strongly suggest reading carefully the following link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/br...

retired DOC

The tether that crooks are required to wear require a land line. Many medical machines require a land line. Thinks of these things before letting phone companies to drop land line service.

watchingyou

I am going to have to work on my Smoke Signal Communication. I sure as heck am not paying for a cell for everyone in the house. Cell service sucks at my house. I guess as long as I have internet though I can still use an IP phone which you can do for almost free now days.

skyking007

More proof that Republicans do not care about people. Until cell phone coverage is reliable in every inch of Michigan, this should not happen. Why is it that Republicans always want to take away things people need?.... Answer.. Republicans work for the corporations, not the people.

Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.