866 Find Demand Amid 1-800 Shortages

866 numbers are the newest toll free numbers, released by the Federal Communications Commission in 2000 to address the shortage of 800, 888, and 877 numbers. Once consumers began to recognize the 866 pre-fix as toll free, the value of 866 soared. Recent studies indicate that 9 out of 10 consumers recognize 866 as a toll free number. The 866 numbers are more popular then ever before, increasing in demand every day.

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Wired Theft

About 3,000 Windstream Communications phone and broadband customers in Washington County were left without service for much of Wednesday after thieves cut lines and fiber optic cables to steal copper wiring.

Get more information here.

North Carolina phone companies push for deregulation & blocking municipal broadband

Immediate Action Item – Please oppose HB 1180, HB 1252 and SB 1004

HB 1180 has passed in the NC House by a vote of 102 to 11. This bill is
entitled “Consumer Choice and Investment Act of 2009” but the title is a
sham. It’s really about removing regulatory protection for landline telephone

Far from being a real consumer oriented bill, it will remove protections that
many of us need at a time when we have seen how badly rampant deregulation has
served our country.

The bill can and must be killed in the Senate.
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AT&T involved in crafting major deregulation legislation

Source from : http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt_and_politics/article_ea5ee994-1a2e-11df-b163-001cc4c03286.html

For the second time in less than three years, telecommunications giant AT&T is involved in crafting major deregulation legislation at private meetings in the state Capitol. Consumer advocates, meanwhile, appear to lack a seat or voice in the process.

The situation seems similar to the role AT&T and other cable providers played leading up to the cable deregulation bill of 2008. The company had a key role in drafting that bill, then entered the cable market soon after with its U-verse package that includes digital cable.

Now, the telecommunications company is working with primary sponsor Sen. Jeff Plale, a Milwaukee Democrat, to craft a bill that will essentially bump it and other telephone utilities to a less-stringent rung of the regulatory ladder.
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Ohio State Announces Telephone Deregulation Bill

The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), the residential utility consumer advocate, opposes legislation passed by the Ohio Senate (Am. Sub. Senate Bill 162) and being considered by the Ohio House of Representatives (Am. House Bill 276) because both eliminate necessary consumer protections, allow telephone companies to raise rates for basic service without review and do not include any benefits for residential consumers.

Am. Sub. Senate Bill 162 and Am. House Bill 276

Alabama’s Telephone deregulation bill close to passage

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – A bill pushed by AT&T Inc. to complete deregulation of phone prices in Alabama is one step away from passing the Legislature.

The bill, which won Senate approval last week (story here), sailed through the House Government Operations Committee 8-1 Wednesday. The bill now goes to the House for a final vote that could come as early as next week.

Much of the traditional landline phone business in Alabama was deregulated by the Legislature in 2005 at the request of Alabama’s largest phone company, AT&T . This year’s bill would end the state Public Service Commission’s regulation of what’s left – basic landline phone services for residences and businesses with four phone lines or less.
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Oaklahoma: House passes Telephone Deregulation Bill

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma House has passed legislation to deregulate landline telephone rates in areas of the state where telephone service is competitive.

House members voted 86-12 for the measure Wednesday and sent it to the Senate for consideration.

The bill says fees for telephone service in areas where the Oklahoma Corporation Commission says the services are competitive will no longer be regulated by the commission.

The measure is opposed by various consumer groups, including AARP Oklahoma.

The organization says the bill would allow telephone companies to increase rates without full notification to customers, to charge any amount for deposits and charge whatever they want for inside wire maintenance plans.

The bill’s author, Rep. Ron Peters of Tulsa, says he is still working on the measure.

Source: http://www.okcfox.com/template/inews_wire/wires.regional.ok/3edb9101-www.okcfox.com.shtml

AT&T’s Custom-Written Kansas Deregulation Bill Causes Scandal – Secret Negotiations Alleged

A Kansas utility board overseeing telecommunications regulation in the state is embroiled in scandal after accusations surfaced that AT&T and the Kansas Corporation Commission, the state’s utility board, met secretly to negotiate a custom-written deregulation bill favoring the telephone company. Senate Bill 384 would deregulate rural telephone exchanges, increase telephone rates for low income families and seniors, allow AT&T to discontinue printing phone directories, and eliminate price caps on basic residential phone service.

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Florida legislature moves deregulation forward

The Florida Senate’s General Government Appropriations Committee approved a version of a deregulation bill to get rid of state oversight of landline rates and customer service Monday in a 3-2 vote. Two Florida House panels have approved a similar bill.

Lawmakers have discussed deregulation initiatives over the past 15 years, but pressure is on to deregulate landline pricing, given the dramatic drop in inventory. A state report shows that the number of traditional land lines In Florida has dropped from around 12 million in 2001 to 9.7 million in December 2007.

Under the bills the state would continue to regulate rates and customer service for people who buy basic service. But anyone who bought additional features such as caller ID or call waiting would fall into a “nonbasic” category and would not be subject to the basic service regulations. Annual increases in the cost of basic service are limited to an amount less than 1 percent less than the basic rate.

Under the bills a top rate increase of 20 percent would drop to 10 percent, but that 10 percent increase would apply more broadly because more customers would fall into the non-basic category.

AT&T says competition and service bundling will keep rates down, but bill sponsors are trying to make the legislation more palatable by expanding the state’s Lifeline phone subsidy program for lower income residents.

Read more: http://www.fiercetelecom.com/story/florida-legislature-moves-deregulation-forward/2009-04-21#ixzz0hvWdTojW

Breaking: Oklahoma Postpones Toll-Free calling plan

A commission on Thursday postponed a plan to make Oklahoma the first state in the nation to have toll-free statewide long-distance telephone service after one commissioner decried what he said are misunderstandings that have led some groups to oppose the idea.

“There is some miscommunication,” Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony said before the three-member commission voted unanimously to postpone implementation of the plan from March 29 to Jan. 19.

“It will take that long for people to calm down,” Anthony said. He and Commissioner Dana Murphy said it is prudent to delay the plan while other issues that could change the regulatory landscape, including a telephone deregulation bill that is pending in the Legislature, are considered.

Anthony said he and other commissioners have received e-mails and messages from telephone customers concerned that the long-distance calling plan for land lines will raise monthly telephone rates by more than $3 per phone number, including cell phones users who already enjoy toll-free long-distance calling.

“That is a misunderstanding. It’s not a new tax. It’s not a new fee,” Anthony said. He said the commission has no taxing authority and that the $3 calculation is a reclassification of existing charges that are already paid by telephone users.

“We haven’t done a very good job of messaging what the proposal is,” Murphy said.

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Thanks to the Associated Press: