Phone Deregulation Bill Clears House Committee

Mar 14, 2014

Legislation further deregulating phone service in the state has advanced to the Kentucky House.

Senate Bill 99, which was crafted by AT&T, would remove telecom carriers’ legal obligation to supply new land-line service in Lexington and other urban areas throughout the state.

Sen. Paul Hornback argued that the law would not interfere with those who are currently satisfied with their land-lines.

"For people in the communities all over this state, if they have a land-line today and they wanted to keep it after this bill becomes law, they will be able to do that - even to the extent that if a bad storm knocks out their basic land-line the companies build it back. Period," Hornback told the panel.

But consumer protection advocates caution that the bill would remove Public Service Commission oversight of cell phone and broadband service complaints. Tom Fitzgerald with the Kentucky Resources Council also warned that the wireless service offered in place of land-lines isn’t always as reliable.

"AT&T's wireless services are not equivalent to wire-line internet," he said, going on to list fax machines, home security system links, and E-911 locator service as no longer guaranteed under the bill.

House Economic Development Committee members were not swayed, however, and voted without opposition to move the bill out of committee and to the full House.