CUB, AARP prepare for looming telecom battle in Springfield

Online Staff Report

Illinois’ top consumer watchdogs will hold a news conference in Rockford Dec. 16 to warn residents of an expected bid by the telecommunications industry to scrap what is the most affordable and reliable phone service for the state’s most vulnerable residents, including senior citizens, rural customers and families on fixed incomes.

CUB and AARP Illinois are bracing for one of the biggest telecom battles in years in the General Assembly’s 2015 session. The Illinois Telecommunications Act is up for review, and big phone companies are expected to push to eliminate traditional home phone service, kill the best local phone deals in the state, and end the Act’s “obligation to serve” requirement. That would open the door for phone companies to abandon areas they deem “unprofitable.”

More than 1 million landlines are in Illinois, according to federal estimates. At the news conference, an AARP Illinois representative will explain survey results that show significant support for landline phone service. A CUB representative will highlight how Big Telecom’s state and national agenda would hurt consumers who rely on landlines as their most reliable and affordable lifeline to family, friends, and key services such as 911.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as health care, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.

CUB is Illinois’ leading nonprofit utility watchdog organization. Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, CUB has saved consumers more than $20 billion by helping to block rate hikes and secure refunds. For more information, call CUB’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-669-5556 or visit www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.

Posted Dec. 15, 2014

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