The recent passage of Senate Bill 88 by the Kentucky State Senate has alarmed some with concerns they may soon find land line telephone service a thing of the past.
Senate Bill 88 is directed at deregulating certain aspects of communication services.
Lourdes Baez, communications director for the Senate Majority, said this bill will not leave rural homes without access to land lines.
“There has been an immense amount of misinformation,” said Baez.
According to Baez, there are protections in the bill which will not allow land lines in rural areas to be discontinued.
“Senator Paul Hornback-R made sure there were protections in the bill so that would not occur,” said Baez.
Baez said these protections would apply to rural areas where cell service is unreliable.
“The protection is with exchanges that have less than 5,000 houses in it that the Kentucky Public Service commission is obligating the companies to keep their minimum voice service,” said Baez. “So there is no danger of anyone losing their service. It’s for those exchanges with more than 5,000 houses, so it would ensure competition.”
Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) Director of Communications Andrew Melnykovych said the size of an exchange varies.
“You can have exchanges that are extremely large,” said Melnykovych. “It’s not what people think of as a phone exchange, which is the first three numbers of the seven digit number. An exchange can have more than one of those dialing groups in it… How large they are is determined mainly by engineering constraints, population density and geography.”
According to Baez, fears that people in rural areas could lose land line service have been unfounded.
Melnykovych said the PSC has not taken a position on the legislation.
“Our understanding of the legislation is there would be a process if a utility wanted to move away from land line service… There would have to be some demonstration that there was an adequate alternative to the traditional phone service,” said Melnykovych.
Melnykovych explained each specific situation would be considered on its own.
“It’s going to be very case specific, — I think it’s safe to say — in terms of how any given geographic area might be impacted,” said Melnykovych. “As I understand the legislation — I have not looked at what the final version of it is right now — but if I understand the legislation there is some oversight responsibility that’s left with the PSC in terms of making a determination as to whether or not there’s adequacy of service.”
Melnykovych pointed out it will take some time to know the full ramifications of the legislation.
“Should the legislation pass, it’s going to be a process that will play out and it’s going to take awhile to do so,” said Melnykovych.
The next step for the bill is the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org