Hold the Phone: Ohioans Could Lose Landline Service
Monday, September 24, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Hold the phone! Ohio lawmakers are considering legislation that could mean the end of traditional phone service for many residents. Senate Bill 271 would allow providers to cut basic service in an area if two other telecommunication services are available, such as wireless (cell) or voice-over-Internet protocol.
The coordinator for the Rural Broadband Policy Group, Edyael Casaperalta, says cell phones are inadequate for some needs, particularly for seniors who might have difficulty using them. She also points out the issue of expense: Requiring the purchase of Internet service plus a phone could easily double a resident's phone bill.
"A land-line telephone is the only reliable, affordable option many people have for communicating with family members, with their doctors, with policymakers."
Casaperalta says consumers could lose reliable access to 911 and be forced to switch to more expensive services that could include unwanted add-ons. Under current law, local telephone service companies must provide affordable and reliable basic telephone service. Providers who want to scrap universal land lines say they are costly and outdated, but critics say too many people rely on them for reliable communication.
An estimated 1 million Ohio residents exclusively use a land-line connection, including many who live in rural areas or are senior citizens. AARP Ohio State Director Bill Sundermeyer says, besides preserving social contact, land-line phones are needed to protect seniors' health and safety. For instance, some seniors use the phone line to transmit routine health information from equipment in their home to their doctor's office, he says.
"They can make an evaluation of a person's heart and how's it working, of their lungs, etc. That information would be very difficult to transmit over a cell phone."
Just two years ago, Ohio passed a telephone deregulation bill that required setting up a committee to review the effect on consumers. Casaperalta says no new telecommunication matters should be introduced until that committee is formed and its report is complete.
"We should not even be considering another deregulation bill without first learning about what type of impact and assessing the impact of that first deregulation bill in 2010."
Senate Bill 271 has passed the Senate and is now under consideration by a House Committee. Similar legislation has been attempted but rejected in other states, including Kentucky and New Jersey.
The Rural Broadband Policy Group is part of the National Rural Assembly, which works on a wide range of issues affecting rural America.
get more stories like this via email
WHITING, Ind. -- International oil-and-gas producer BP will pay more than $500,000 to the federal government as part of a legal settlement over air …
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Strikes that erupted in what became known as "Striketober" aren't over yet. After a two-day strike in October, health-care …
DENVER -- Women and low-income students disproportionately put their college careers on hold during the pandemic, according to a new report. Of the 1…
MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- Like most of the nation, Wisconsin does not have a statewide paid parental leave policy, but in Milwaukee, a three-month paid …
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- With kids stuck at home early in the pandemic, a new report said child-abuse cases decreased in 2020, but children's advocates say …
RAPID CITY, S.D. -- If South Dakota wants to turn out a thriving economy, quality affordable child care needs to be a vital component, according to a …
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In a system plagued by a history of disparities, Ohio's child-welfare workers and children's advocates say it is time to reimagine …
PITTSBURGH -- Pennsylvanians were overwhelmingly present during three days of virtual public testimony to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) la…