Why should you oppose AT&T’s bid to kill traditional home phone service in its Illinois territory—even if you don’t own a landline? First, it might be helpful to know what the phone giant wants out of legislation in Springfield.
AT&T is pushing two bills: Senate Bill 1381 and House Bill 2691. Those bills would:
- Ditch the “Obligation to Serve” requirement. Current state law requires AT&T to offer service to all customers in its Illinois territory. But AT&T’s plan would strip the state of that authority, ceding jurisdiction to federal bureaucrats. That would open the door for the company to end traditional home phone service (landlines) for customers, potentially cutting them off from affordable phone choices and reliable connections to emergency services.
- Abolish low-cost calling plans. Illinois law mandates that AT&T offer the low-cost “Consumer’s Choice” plans, which were created by CUB under a legal settlement with the company. These phone deals are currently under a state-mandated price freeze, capped at about $3-20 a month, but AT&T wants permission to drop them.
5 reasons why AT&T’s plan is bad for consumers
1) Millions of Illinoisans depend on traditional home phone service. For many seniors, rural residents and low-income families, traditional phone service is the most reliable, affordable lifeline to vital services such as 911, home security and medical monitoring. AT&T’s legislation would leave some families and retirees stranded in a telephone void, where cellphone service is inconsistent at best. Not only could that cut them off from communicating with loved ones, but it could also leave them dangerously disconnected from first-responders.
2) AT&T’s plan would be expensive. AT&T wants to kick people off the low-cost Consumer’s Choice calling plans, and that will directly lead to increased phone bills. AT&T’s business model is to force customers onto more expensive Internet-based or wireless substitutes.
3) AT&T’s plan is unreliable. Traditional home phone service doesn’t go out during power outages or suffer from dropped calls.
4) AT&T’s plan is anti-competition. In many parts of the state, telecom competition is anemic, and AT&T’s plan would limit it even more. Stripped of traditional phone service, customers could be forced to choose expensive and less-reliable wireless phone service, computer-based telecommunications or bloated cable “triple play” packages. A multi-billion-dollar company shouldn’t be allowed to restrict telecom choices, especially for people who depend on home phone service.
5) AT&T’s plan isn’t necessary. AT&T, which made $13 billion in profits last year, is a healthy company and shouldn’t turn its back on some of its most loyal customers—many of whom are most in the need of reliable, affordable home phone service.
What can you do?