AARP Public Policy Institute: Survey of Maryland Registered Voters (January 2017)

Marylanders overwhelmingly (81%) want the legislature work to maintain affordable, reliable, and high quality traditional telephone service, according to a recent AARP Public Policy Institute survey.

The organization is calling on the Maryland House of Delegates to pass the Wired Broadband Act of 2017 (HB 1313), legislation sponsored by Delegate Mark Fisher to require landline telephone companies to provide and maintain wired broadband service, and to commit to extending universal wired broadband access throughout the State.

The 2017 AARP Public Policy Institute survey of Marylanders 45-plus found that (98%) still use traditional land lines (98%) for telephone service even though an increasing number are using cellular or wireless service (89%), or have a bundled service plan (80%).

“It is clear that the affordability and reliability of essential services such as basic voice service and broadband access to the Internet are key issues for AARP members, especially for those living in outlying rural areas and urban centers,” said AARP Maryland state director Hank Greenberg.  “It directly impacts their ability to access emergency services, remain connected with loved ones, and prevent the deleterious effects of isolation.”

At a House Economic Matters Committee hearing on March 2, AARP Maryland Associate State Director for Advocacy Tammy Bresnahan is testifying in favor of House Bill 1313, to require telephone companies to provide and maintain wired broadband service or pay the cost of providing wired broadband service to the Rural Broadband Assistance Fund. This legislation would also require the telephone company to cooperate with the Federal Communications Commission on efforts to promote universal wired broadband access throughout the State.

AARP points out that in emergencies, such as a power outage, landline phones may continue to operate, while a wireless or cellular phone would need to be recharged electronically. Residents in rural communities have fewer alternate service options where networks have not been extended, or wireless coverage is sparse.

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For questions or additional information about AARP Maryland’s legislative agenda please contact Associate State Director for Advocacy Tammy Bresnahan at tbresnahan@aarp.org or by phone at 410-302-8451, or visit www.aarp.org/md.

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