Telecom giant AT&T is asking for Illinois’ permission to scrap requirements that the company maintain land-based phone lines.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, only four percent of Illinoisans still rely solely on landlines. AT&T has to get permission from a number of state legislatures before they can formally ask the Federal Communications Council to be allowed to scuttle the thousands of miles of land-based phone lines, with Illinois being one of those states. The bill is currently awaiting a Senate floor vote.
The telecom giant could then use its resources to offer better services.
“It’s taking a large investment that could be spent covering the vast majority of their customers for wireless or IP-based phone services,” said Brent Skorup, Technology Fellow with the Mercatus Center.
Skeptics of the plan worry about access to rural areas covered by AT&T. Skorup contends the fears about people being without any service are largely unfounded.
“There are steps in there to make sure that no one is being disconnected and that everyone will have one or most likely, several phone options,” he said.
In 2015, the Ohio state legislature voted to allow all major telecom companies to withdraw from their basic landline services.