Is basic landline telephone service on the way out in Ohio? That’s the question being asked with the passage of Senate Bill 271 by the Ohio Senate. The bill awaits action in the Ohio House of Representatives.
The bill would allow companies deemed “fully competitive” to discontinue the basic local telephone service which allows customers to make and receive unlimited local calls at a flat monthly rate which is capped by the state.
The bill, which sailed through the Senate on a 30-3 vote, is touted by its chief sponsor, Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Fairlawn, as freeing phone companies from outdated regulations and allowing them to spend time and money on new, high-speed connections.
Opponents, including the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and AARP, say the bill ignores the needs of low-income residents who can’t afford more than basic service, persons who live in rural areas without reliable cell phone service, and senior citizens who may have trouble seeing or using cell phone keyboards or simply prefer traditional telephone service.