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
service.

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.

..also HB 1252 and SB 1004 would prevent the state from getting municipal
broadband internet access, further widening the digital divide and making
internet access a luxury few can afford.

> —–Original Message—–
> *Telephone Deregulation Bill May
> Increase Costs and Lower Service*
>
>
>
> *The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to take up House Bill
> 1180 *– Consumer Choice and Investment Act of 2009 — *on Wednesday,
> May 6.* The bill is being pushed strongly by AT&T and other telephone
> companies that sell traditional land lines.
>
> *An **April 24, 2009 editorial in the Raleigh News and Observer *
> *sums
> up the problem with this legislation. *
> Currently these companies must meet 14 service standards set by the NC
> Utilities Commission. *The bill removes all price protections
> currently overseen by the Utilities Commission, and it also removes
> the Commission’s authority on “terms, condition, rates, or
> availability” of all local telephone service except in one limited
> instance. *(That instance is for customers who have only stand-alone
> basic service and nothing else: no call waiting, no voice mail or
> other add-on. In that case the price increase is limited to the
> percent increase in the Consumer Price Index).
>
> *One of AARP’s major objections to the bill is that the public could
> no longer take complaints to the Utilities Commission, because the
> measure removes the Commission’s jurisdiction to fix complaints. While
> the bill says the customer can seek the assistance of the Commission
> to resolve a complaint, the Commission has no authority to do so,
> therefore the customer has no recourse if the phone company doesn’t
> solve the problem.
> *
> The telephone companies argue that competition will force them to make
> pricing competitive and to maintain a high level of service, but *in
> other states there have been problems.* An investigation is underway
> in Florida, where the attorney general called for $6.5 million in
> fines against Verizon Communications for what he called willful and
> repeated lapses in their telephone service. *Among the complaints
> *were tangled customer bills, long waits for repairs, and other
> reports of poor service. Regulators in Maryland, New York and Maine
> have also been investigating Verizon on the issue of service quality.
>
> *In addition, some customers in rural areas don’t have other choices
> for reliable phone service.
> *
> */Please contact members of the House Ways and Means Committee today
> and ask them to oppose House Bill 1180. The bill is scheduled for a
> committee vote at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday.

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  1. […] Contact Us ← North Carolina phone companies push for deregulation & blocking municipal broadband […]

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