Challenging how telephone companies could be regulated was an issue that dominated the beginning of the 21st century. Starting with the passage of Senate Bill 235 in 2000, the Ohio legislature had the hopes of creating new rules that may facilitate competition from federal law that was not working in Ohio. The OCC did not oppose the bill but remained cautious about whether it would produce a competitive market.
In 2001, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) proposed rules about how the telephone industry would be regulated that were greatly opposed by the OCC. A coalition of consumer groups, including AARP, the cities of Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo and low-income groups was organized by the OCC as a grassroots effort to oppose the plan. The efforts of the coalition led to more than 6,600 letters sent to the PUCO opposing its proposal.
The PUCO plan would have required greater availability of broadband services and capped basic rates but would have allowed companies to raise the rates of commonly used services like Caller ID and second telephone lines.
Despite several concessions made by the PUCO, including capped rates for basic Caller ID and a limited price increase of 10 percent annually for call waiting, the OCC still opposed the rules because they did not serve the public's interest. Companies should not have pricing and profit freedom when residential consumers do not have a choice in providers.
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