Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rural Kentuckians to Get "Disconnected"

It seems like everywhere I look
  the citizen consumer is getting screwed
  by their elected Republican legislators.
In favor of more profit for corporations.

For many of you who only have a cell phone – this legislation will make no sense at all.

For people and small businesses in rural areas, and have to rely on a land line style phone coming into their house/business– because there is no cell coverage or bad cell service or can’t afford a cell phone plan – This bill is devastating.

And it sure smells like ALEC de-regulation to me – but I can’t prove it – so for now I will just call it Republican crap.

Kentucky SB !35
AN ACT relating to telecommunications.
     Amend KRS 278.542 and 278.543 to
eliminate Public Service Commission jurisdiction over rates for basic local exchange telephone service after 60 months;
limit PSC ability to investigate telecom issues on its own motion;
exempt electing utilities from KRS 278.160 relating to filing and displaying of schedules of rates and conditions of service;
exempt electing utilities from KRS 278.170 relating to discrimination as to rates or service;
exempt electing utilities from KRS 278.180 relating to changes in rates and how they are made;
exempt electing utilities from KRS 278.250 relating to PSC investigation of the condition of the utility,
exempt electing utilities from KRS 278.542 (1)(l) relating to PSC involvement in the setting of performance objectives;
exempt electing utilities from KRS 278.544(2) relating to telephone utilities provision of optional features on a stand alone basis to basic service customers;
relieve electing utility from obligation to provide service where any other carrier offering any kind of voice service exists;
allow electing utilities to satisfy an obligation to provide voice service with any technology or service arrangement;
eliminate all obligation to provide service after June 30, 2013;
amend KRS 278.54611 to remove PSC responsibility to develop cellphone standards and require that FCC standards be applied;
eliminate requirement that these standards apply to carriers of last resort;
amend KRS 278.5462 to limit PSC authority in resolution of broadband complaints

As rural constituents, we feel compelled to express our concern over the negative impact that SB 135 will have on rural, remote, and poor communities in Kentucky. Especially at a time when poverty rates are statistically high and jobs are scarce, Kentuckians cannot afford to lose yet another resource. We are extremely worried that SB 135 will:

ü      Leave rural, low-income and fixed-income Kentuckians without access to basic phone service, including 911-emergency service.
ü      Leave customers at the mercy of a utility and its affiliated companies to raise the price for basic service in an area where no other competitor exists.
ü      Allow possible “redlining” of poor and remote communities where providing service is more costly or higher-maintenance.
ü      Strip the Public Service Commission of its authority to protect consumers by investigating complaints regarding basic telephone service quality.
ü      Carriers could decide to abandon or retire their wirelines, resulting in loss of access to vulnerable customers by the competitors.
InsideALEC November 2009
ALEC policy holds that free market principles will best
serve consumers when businesses can compete within an
environment unburdened by indiscriminate regulations, market
uncertainty, and political involvement.

SB135, arguing that it “threatens access to what most consider a basic lifeline, including 911-emergency service, for Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens.”

The bill, currently being considered by Kentucky’s Standing Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor, would eliminate so-called “carrier of last resort” (COLR) rules, which would mean telephone companies could stop offering voice telephone service if they found it to be too expensive or technically difficult.

These proposals have been rejected on a national level.  Major telephone companies asked the Federal Communications Commission to exempt them from these regulations last November, and the FCC declined.  In particular, the FCC noted that these
 companies receive state and federal subsidies to provide service in rural areas.

In the state of Kentucky, according to FCC data, these companies received the following federal dollars subsidizing rural telephone service in 2011 alone:

AT&T received over $16.5 million
•Windstream received over $10 million
Cincinnati Bell received $.75 million

Sponsors: One Dem – the rest are Repugs:
SB 135 (BR 1280) –
P. Hornback,
A. Kerr,
J. Carpenter,
D. Parrett,  - Lone Dem & winner of the Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award – HAH!
J. Pendleton,
K. Winters


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