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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

AARP, some legislators concerned bill would lead to higher phone rates

A committee in the Alabama Legislature moved a bill that would deregulate telephone service by AT&T one step away from passage on Wednesday.
The House Government Operations Committee, on a voice vote, approved the legislation with one dissenting vote. The Senate has passed the bill so the legislation will now be up for consideration by the full House.
State Rep. Jody Letson, D-Hillsboro, said he is concerned about removing phone service and land lines from under the control of the Public Service Commission. He said he feels more should be brought under regulation.
Letson said he has received a lot of e-mails and people are concerned that the companies will do away with land lines, especially in rural areas, or that the cost will become too expensive.
He is not alone. People representing the AARP oppose the bill, saying deregulation could lead to an increase in their costs.
Supporters of the bill said they believe competition will keep prices reasonable.
Hood Harris, spokesman for AT&T, said the bill is about fairness. He said other providers are not regulated by the PSC. He said the industry is losing land lines to mobile and Voice over Internet Protocol services that are unregulated. He said the measure, by allowing AT&T to compete, would help the company to keep more of its 7,500 employees in the state.
The company, he said, can then create a more modern and efficient network.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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