Kentucky is the latest U.S state to join the trend of deregulating landline telephone services, as cell phone and high-speed Internet access are eclipsing the 100-year-old technology.
The state Senate recently voted 30-3 to strip the Public Service Commission of its ability to require that telecommunication companies install and maintain landline telephone service. Governor Steve Beshear said he will sign it into a law.
The bill will only apply to areas with more than 15,000 households, so rural mountain areas with poor cell service will be able to keep their landlines. Telecommunications companies will not be given the right to forcefully take away someone’s landline service in an urban area unless the Federal Communications Commission approves it.
“Consumers are demanding new technology and this bill will allow that investment,” AT&T of Kentucky President Hood Harris said, also noting an average of 8,000 of AT&T’s Kentucky customers each month drop their landline service.
Opponents to the bill warn that new households cannot be guaranteed a landline if they desire one. As well, the Alarm Industry Communication Committee sent a letters to Kentucky lawmakers last week noting that new telephone technologies do not always support home-security systems.