"Alarm" Over Landline Bill
PHOTO: Opponents of a bill to deregulate traditional phone service in the state claim it could reduce the reliability of life-safety alarm services. Photo by Greg Stotelmyer.
March 27, 2014
FRANKFURT, Ky. – One of the leading providers of electronic security and alarm monitoring services in the U.S. – The ADT Corp. – wants Kentucky lawmakers to back off deregulating landline phone service in the state.
Steve Shapiro, ADT’s vice president of industry relations, maintains that discontinuing what's known as POTS, or Plain Old Telephone Service, could leave some Kentuckians without reliable access to life-safety alarm services.
"There is some likelihood that alarm systems and/or medical alert systems may not be able to send signals to ADT's monitoring centers," he explains.
Senate Bill 99 would allow major phone carriers to stop providing landline service in parts of the state and the traditional service would not have to be provided to any new customers.
The bill is now awaiting a vote in the House.
Both ADT and consumer advocates want lawmakers to delay deregulation until after the Federal Communications Commission has finished experimental trials on the switch to Internet protocol-based networks.
Tom FitzGerald, director, of the Kentucky Resources Council, warns that moving to wireless without further study could lead to a loss of essential phone services.
"If they were to explain to the landowner, you will lose the ability for 911 to find you, you will not be able to have medical monitoring done, your alarm system will no longer function, then customers might be more wary about switching to wireless," he explains.
AT&T has led the push for deregulation, claiming it needs the freedom to use money it currently spends on landline service to continue building its high-speed broadband infrastructure.
Shapiro says while ADT accepts the transition toward wireless, some of its customers who have made the change voluntarily have had troubles after the fact.
"We understand we're heading this way and technology does advance,” he says. “But, we have to be careful that we don't legislate something before we have all the data knowing there are problems."