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Archive for Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kansas regulators, consumer groups oppose bill deregulating AT&T phone service

March 16, 2011

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— A proposal to deregulate AT&T for basic phone service was opposed Wednesday by state regulators and consumer advocates.

“There is only one thing this bill will do. It’s going to raise rates,” said David Springe, consumer counsel for the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board.

“If you pass it, pass it knowing that for the elderly and people who can least afford it, you just raised their rates,” Springe told the House Energy and Utilities Committee.

Most phone services are already deregulated. But the cost of single-line and Lifeline, for low-income households, can only be increased each year by the amount of the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Senate Bill 72 would eliminate those protections.

AT&T officials say by removing the regulations the company will be able to offer a broader array of services to those customers, and that competition will keep costs reasonable.

Christine Aarnes, chief of telecommunications at the Kansas Corporation Commission, said that wasn’t the case.

In other states, deregulation was followed by higher prices, she said. Springe argued there was no competition for single-line service to drive down costs. The Kansas chapter of AARP also opposes the bill.

The proposal has passed in the Senate by a 32-7 vote.

Comments

kinder_world 3 years ago

I know of a lady in her 80's that lives in a rural community. She would in no way be able to use a cell phone, nor be able to hear on a cell phone. She would have to drive to the outshirts of town to have cell phone reception. Her income (or lack of income) has her living in low income housing. No car so she depends on goodness of others. Receives meals on wheels during the week and saves what she cannot eat at a meal so she will have leftovers for another meal. Her land line is a necessity. She does not require any more services on her phone line except for being able to call her doctor, pharmacy, or for help. To raise her rates would be a hardship.

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Agnostick 3 years ago

I think barlowtl alluded to this earlier in the thread... but one major advantage traditional phone lines have over everything else: self-contained power system (assuming you're using an older corded phone). When you have a power outage in your home, your VOIP phone will go dead, since it needs to plug into the wall. Your mobile phone may work, but the towers might be down. Conventional land lines are notoriously rugged and independent, as long as all the lines are up.

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HomeSlice 3 years ago

I use Magic Jack and it suits my purposes very well. Highly recommended.

I carry a cell phone, but like the idea of a regular landline as a backup. I grabbed an old PC carcass and dedicated it to just this use. (Could have used any PC or laptop in the house with no problems, either). It sits in the basement, no monitor, mouse or keyboard and hums along. If the power fails, it just reboots and fires the service back up. Voice quality can be a bit choppy if there are large downloads happening at the same time, but it is more than acceptable.

All this for $20 a YEAR. My monthly cost for a 'regular' landline was $25+ through a cable package. The only downside to all this is the cable company constantly pestering me to sign up for landline service again. This must be their moneymaker these days.

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Agnostick 3 years ago

I started thinking about the movie "Crazy People" over in another discussion, and came across this:

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Agnostick 3 years ago

Well, since none2 brought it up, here's a tidbit I heard about on "Morning Joe"...

"Consumer Reports cell-service Ratings: AT&T is the worst carrier" http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/2010/12/consumer-reports-cell-phone-survey-att-worst.html

While the actual report is limited to subscribers, Erin Burnett reported that AT&T was the bottom feeder, and T-Mobile was exactly one notch up. So, the worst and second-worst (as rated by select consumers) will be merging.

Jonathan, when was the last time you did a poll asking how many people still had traditional "land lines" in their residences? I'd bet more than half have cut the cord, and switched to mobile and/or VOIP lines. I'm not sure where Magic Jack fits into all this.

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com

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none2 3 years ago

Speaking of the AT&T buyout of T-mobile. Why isn't the LJWorld reporting on this?

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jb345 3 years, 1 month ago

How is AT&T raising rates any different than the oil companies raising the price of gas? You don't see oil companies getting slapped with price regulations so that the elderly can afford it. Maybe if there was some deregulation then AT&T would sink more money into this state for more cell towers so that we would have better coverage in rural areas. I've had AT&T (or southwestern bell) for the past 10 years. I think they offer great services and wouldn't live anywhere without U-verse service. I'm okay with my land line going up a few dollars a month--because it's practically been the same price for the past 10 years.

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none2 3 years, 1 month ago

I will say what frustrates me is that AT&T is now going to raise DSL & U-Verse rates for what they say are big users. They claim that only 2% of users are affected, YET you cannot find out a history of your usage to see if you fall in that group. (FYI, I don't download movies nor play online games, but I do a lot of work from home.)

Supposedly sometime tomorrow the following site will work:

http://www.myusage.att.com

It doesn't work yet, but should work sometime tomorrow. If it does not show historical usage, then I'm going to complain to the KCC (Kansas Corporation Commission) about this charge. They need to prove that this only affects 2%.

Those of you who despised Sunflower Broadband have no idea just how good of a company you had compared to AT&T. I have had nothing with problems with AT&T over the years. I believe they have a lot of cronies at the state and federal level that let them get buy with a lot of stuff.

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QuinnSutore 3 years, 1 month ago

It's such a shame that they raise those rates, considering we don't have a free market that lets people jump to a better provider! If only we lived in capitalist America...

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Cait McKnelly 3 years, 1 month ago

We haven't had a land line with AT&T since all of the baby Bells were busted away 30 years ago. For the last few years we haven't even used that. Our current "house" phone is through the cable company. As a result I started to say that I didn't care but then I read the comments about rural areas and the impact this would have. Then I thought about those rural areas and remembered that they were the ones who put this bunch of jack wagons in power to begin with. Let them figure out for once that "elections have consequences".

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"AT&T officials say by removing the regulations the company will be able to offer a broader array of services to those customers, and that competition will keep costs reasonable."

Competition with whom? They have a monopoly on the landlines that they serve.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

"In other states, deregulation was followed by higher prices"

Did those higher prices also include additional services?

"Springe argued there was no competition for single-line service to drive down costs."

Yeah. Unless you go to the dollar store or Wal-Mart and buy a cell phone for ten bucks.

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Jimo 3 years, 1 month ago

David Springe, consumer counsel for the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board said, “If you pass it, pass it knowing that for the elderly and people who can least afford it, you just raised their rates."

Might I suggest that if protecting these groups were the priority that the State demand a subsidy program for qualifying customers instead of what Mr. Springe is demanding: subsidies for everyone, poor or wealthy.

Can there be anything more obvious than the fact that we cannot continue to provide welfare for the better off?

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