Senate Passes AT&T-Backed Deregulation Bill

Jan 31, 2014

A bill backed by AT&T that would deregulate telecommunications in Kentucky has passed the state Senate.

Senators voted 34-4 in favor of the bill. It would end requirements for telephone service providers to offer landlines to urban areas.

It would also prohibit the Public Service Commission from arbitrating consumer complaints over broadband services.

AT&T contends the legislation will allow it to invest in high-speed broadband and Internet telephone services, and that the bill won’t affect existing services in rural areas.

But Tom Fitzgerald of the Kentucky Resources Council told lawmakers the proposed legislation would hurt consumers.

“Today’s regulated system includes strong protections for consumers, which are threatened by AT&T and other carriers who seek little or no government oversight of digital communications, and elimination of state or federal oversight over IP networks,” he said.

Fitzgerald testified against the bill in a Senate committee. He says there’s no profit for AT&T in providing basic services to low-income customers.

“You want to upsell the customers to get all the bells and whistles, because that’s where you’re making your money," He said. "You’re not making it providing low- and fixed-income people basic local exchange service. You’re not losing money, but you’re not making it.”

Last year, AT&T spent over $100,000 lobbying the General Assembly.