By Frank Lewis – firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s say you live in one of the many isolated areas of Scioto County in which cellular service is non-existent and that hasn’t bothered you in the past because you have landline service. But what would happen if you suddenly lost your landline service as well? You may find out.
Ohio has put in the most recent budget, House Bill 64, a law allowing telephone companies to stop offering traditional phone service. That means we are possibly headed in the direction of a day when that dinosaur known as landline service could be going away.
A spokeswoman for the office of State Senator Joe Uecker said it was split in two parts so there may also be parts of it in the Mid-Biennium Review.
“What was put in House Bill 64 wasn’t as extreme as the original legislation,” the spokeswoman told the Daily Times. “It still gives the individual the ability to legally go to the Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) and say – if the local provider is removing access and there’s no other options, then they are not allowed to do it.”
One local official says there are two sides that need to be considered.
“I’m not 100 percent in favor especially in our county and south central/east region of Ohio,” Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis told the Daily Times. “The cons are as such…we have major internet/cell phone blackout areas in the northwest part and remote areas of our county. We still have people on land lines in our area. Our senior citizens, low income (and even a few no to low tech middle aged adults) may not have cell phones or computers.”
Davis said it is also because several areas that do not have cell service access to emergency medical services or police/sheriff protection may be hampered, especially in the area’s older citizenry whom he says needs it the most.
“If the electric goes out, computers go out after a few hours and only if they are on battery backup,” Davis said. “Land lines usually carry enough current in the copper lines to keep a connection going. I’m not certain comparable voice over options with comparable cost exist in our remote rural areas.”
Davis said just as there are cons, there are also pros.
“The pro’s for the phone companies are that they can invest in new technologies bettering service instead of re-investing in old technology,” Davis said. “I get it but I’m concerned about public safety mostly.”
Davis said if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) want to do take that action the federal government and state of Ohio needs to fully fund and finish what Connect Ohio started and get the remote areas such as Otway, Rarden and others adequate reliable broadband access before doing it.
“Even then I am concerned about power outages in remote areas that could cost lives,” Davis said.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.