April 7, 2010: Telephone Deregulation Legislation Harms Consumers

April 7, 2010: Telephone Deregulation Legislation Harms Consumers

For Immediate Release: April 7, 2010

Telephone Deregulation Legislation Will Harm Consumers

Statement of Charlie Higley, Executive Director

“The Citizens Utility Board strongly opposes telephone deregulation legislation AB 696 & SB 469.

“Although there are over 4 million cellphones in Wisconsin, there are still over 3 million landlines, which means hundreds of thousands of households and thousands of businesses still rely on landline service.  AB 696 & SB 469 would repeal almost all of the consumer protections provided by the Public Service Commission regarding landline service.  With this radical deregulation legislation, telephone utilities like AT&T:

  • would no longer need to provide reasonable service at reasonable rates;
  • would no longer need to file financial information with the PSC, allowing them to evade appropriate regulation and charge whatever they want for service;
  • could change telephone rates or stop providing service at their discretion;
  • would no longer need to maintain important equipment and facilities, such as the lines going to homes and businesses;
  • could charge customers discriminatory rates for similar service, thus favoring preferred customers while charging everyone else higher rates;

“This legislation was largely written by AT&T.  Many businesses and organizations, including CUB, had no input on the legislation.

“Given these concerns, I urge lawmakers to vote against AB 696 and SB 469.”

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