The Ohio General Assembly is considering legislation that would allow some telephone companies to withdraw regulated basic telephone service from their customers or charge customers whatever they choose for services. The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) is concerned about the impact Amended Substitute Senate Bill 271 (SB 271) could have on Ohio's telephone consumers. Allowing telephone companies to withdraw their basic service could:
In addition to allowing telephone companies to stop providing basic service, SB 271 would also remove the requirement for telephone companies to meet minimum service quality standards for basic service if all their exchanges are determined to be "fully competitive." These service quality standards include protections for customers against unreasonable bill payment timelines, lengthy service outages and disconnections without notice, among other things.
Under current law, a telephone company may obtain more flexibility in pricing basic service rates by showing that two competing telecommunications services are available somewhere but not necessarily everywhere in the exchange. SB 271 would apply this same test to allow telephone companies to withdraw their basic service from customers altogether. As a result, some customers may lose access to affordable and reliable local telephone service because there may not be a competitive telephone provider in their immediate area.
The OCC is working with legislators and other parties to protect consumers from the possibility of losing access to affordable and reliable telephone service.
|BLES: Basic Local Exchange Service, or basic telephone service. BLES is the simplest form of telephone service and allows customers to make and receive unlimited local calls at a flat, monthly rate. This monthly rate is capped, in an effort to provide all consumers access to affordable telephone service.|
|COLR: Carrier of Last Resort. COLR is the requirement that a telephone company make basic telephone service available on a reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis to any customer in its service territory who requests the service.|
|ILEC: Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier or, as referred to in this fact sheet, "telephone company." An ILEC is the telephone company that is required to be the carrier of last resort throughout its entire service territory.|
|Exchange: A geographical service area established by a telephone company and approved by the PUCO. See the maps that delineate Ohio's telephone exchanges included on Page 4 of this fact sheet. There are more than 700 exchanges in Ohio.|
|Service Territory: The entire area in which a telephone company serves as the Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier.|
|VoIP: Voice over Internet Protocol. The telecommunications service in which voice communications are transmitted in digital form over computerized networks, such as the Internet.|
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