The Michigan legislature is on the verge of sending SB 636 to the governor that will take away the authority of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to oversee the discontinuance of basic landline telephone service and instead places that authority with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who has not been in the business of regulating Michigan telephone service.
MAC, along with AARP, Law Enforcement, 911 Service providers and others oppose the bill for the following reasons:
- The elimination of the requirement to provide basic landline service will inhibit the ability of many Michigan residents to call for emergency help.
- Eliminating landline service and replacing it with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and cellular phone coverage is unreliable due to sketchy coverage, extended power outages and the inability of law enforcement to identify the exact location of the caller.
- The bill calls for comparable and reliable service, but does not ensure comparable cost and will only require landline service if a consumer files a complaint with the MPSC. This places a significant burden on the consumer who likely does not know who the MPSC is nor how to file a complaint with them.
- VOIP, the alternative to home phone landline service, requires a cable running to the house, but the build-out of this technology is not there yet, nor is there any guarantees that this will be completed prior to the discontinuance of landline service.
- Cellular coverage may be available, but it is not reliable, cannot pinpoint location, and calls are often dropped at inopportune times.
- There is nothing in the bill that would prohibit the providers from requiring a “bundled” service for access to a VOIP or cellular telephone line.
- 911 service providers cannot access critical information about a call if it comes from a VOIP line or a cellular line. Traditional land lines convey information about medical equipment, special needs children in the home, elderly in the home, and the like.
- Michigan already has a statute that provides for a process for the landline provider to get out of providing the service, but the proponent of this legislation wants to avoid those requirements and skip Michigan’s oversight in favor of a further removed federal body.
Please contact your State Representative and ask them to put public safety first and vote no on SB 636.
Landline Elimination Information Maps: SB 636 MPSC Slides