Gov. Rick Snyder late Tuesday signed Senate Bill 636, which will allow telephone companies to eliminate landline phone service with only 90 days' notice beginning in 2017.
AARP Michigan strongly opposed the bill and designated the vote on SB 636 as a “key vote,” meaning the organization deems the legislation important to membership and will report who supported and opposed the bill throughout the legislative process.
More than 1,200 AARP members and others responded to a recent call-to-action email and notified the governor's office that they opposed the bill and urged him to veto it.
AARP Michigan opposed the legislation because:
– Surveys indicate our members and other older adults prefer to keep their landline service in addition to wireless phones or other alternative service.
– Wireless phones or other alternative options currently are not as reliable and affordable as landline service.
– The bill replaces the Michigan Public Service Commission with the more remote Federal Communications Commission as the front-line telecommunications regulatory agency.
– Consumers who live in areas where they cannot receive service comparable to landlines would have to initiate a complaint before the Michigan Public Service Commission could investigate. The MPSC would not be able to launch such an investigation on its own.
– Questions remain about whether the new technology can support medical monitoring of pacemakers, implantable cardiac defibrillators and other lifesaving devices.
– Questions also remain about the reliability of VOIP in the event of a prolonged power outage.
– In some pockets of the state there is no broadband access, so traditional landlines are the only option.