Letter to the Editor – Denver Post

It is widely agreed that landline telephones will eventually be replaced by cell phone usage.  This poses the question: will this happen before the technology is robust enough to replace that ultra-reliable system?  (Colorado Needs New Telecom Regulation, 3/31/14)

Consider:

  • For seniors and those of us who are hard of hearing, the landline’s ring and voice amplification system are far superior to cell phone technology. Premature pushing of wireless service may create a large group of people who are left outside of any communications system.
  • The connection between the 911 System and the new technology requires improvement in order for everyone to receive reliable disaster alerts.  When buying a VOIP system, people are advised to have an alternative to make 911 calls.  Taking away the maintenance funding for landlines (high cost fund) is taking away that backup method.
  • If the PUC regulates 911 Service but not the communications system, how will it make the communications system responsive to 911?
  • Deregulating all communications services leaves Colorado without aggregated complaint data; data the State legislature needs to implement the “claw-back” system for re-regulation. Relying on the Federal Communications Commission or the state Attorney General to resolve complaints at the local level is not efficient or effective.
  • What happens to the Disabled Telephone Users Fund (a five cent per line monthly charge) when landlines disappear?  This fund supports the federally mandated Relay Service for deaf telephone users and the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Telephone Reading Service for the blind.  How will these vital communication services continue?

Let’s not abandon seniors and people who are hard of hearing or Deaf in the transition to wireless service, which may not reliable in an emergency. Telecommunication companies need to address our issues before such a transition takes place and there should be local oversight. After deregulating the communications system, these companies will have no incentive to maintain anything but the means to make a profit at the expense of safety.

Patricia Yeager, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
The Independence Center