AARP AARP States Pennsylvania Advocacy

House Bill Will Protect Landline Phone Service in Rural Markets

get ready for 10-digit dialing!

AARP Pennsylvania today testified at a hearing of the PA House of Representatives Consumer Affairs Committee to support HB 1417, that will protect landline telephone service for consumers in the state's rural communities by extending funding for the Universal Service Fund until the end of 2021.

HB 1417 extends the Universal Service Fund until the end of 2021 and requires a Public Utility Commission investigation of how the Fund should function in the future. AARP believes this offers the right mix for both consumers and providers of basic landline telephone services – a guarantee that those that rely on the Universal Service Fund to make their telephone service available and affordable will continue to have access to the Fund, but also a study to determine what changes should be made in a few years’ time to reflect the reality of a changing telecommunications environment.

In testimony to the committee, AARP PA Advocacy Manager Ray Landis said:

"AARP believes it is critical that those living in all areas of Pennsylvania have access to high-quality affordable telephone service. And we recognize that it is more difficult to meet this goal in harder-to-serve more rural areas of the Commonwealth. AARP strongly supports the continuation of the Universal Service Fund as proposed in HB 1417 as a way to ensure that consumers in many parts of rural Pennsylvania have access to landline telephone service. The Universal Service Fund helps to guarantee a level playing field for telephone consumers in Pennsylvania, and we believe it provides modest, necessary support for those in hard-to-serve areas."

"There are many AARP members who look at their telephone service almost exclusively for two main purposes - as a way to maintain contact with relatives and neighbors and as their source of assistance in an emergency," Landis added. "To these individuals, the availability of high-quality, basic, affordable telephone service is essential."

A 2013 AARP study reinforced the value of maintaining affordable land line service in rural communities. In that survey, 44% of rural residents reported receiving “very few” calls on their cell phones, demonstrating that significant numbers of Pennsylvanians--particularly in rural areas-- still rely on landline telephone service as their main method of telephone communication.

AARP Pennsylvania strongly supports HB 1417 and urges the Consumer Affairs Committee to approve the bill and send it to the full House for action.

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