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Report: Ohio Telecoms Want To End Landline Rules

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Report: Ohio Telecoms Want To End Landline Rules

November 19, 2014

  By Rory J. Thompson, Web Editor

In the wake of midterm elections, President Obama opened quite the can of worms when he waded into the Net Neutrality debate. Now the issue is trickling down to the state level, and telecoms in Ohio are sensing an opportunity to get rid of old landline rules and instead go fully wireless. But that’s not sitting well with everyone.

According to a report in The Columbus Dispatch, Republicans in Ohio want to relieve Ohio’s telephone companies from having to operate basic landline service (after federal regulators have signed off), but Gov. John Kasich and others remain opposed.

“The Ohio Telecom Association (News - Alert) is arguing that the more money telephone companies must spend on traditional landlines, the less they have to spend on advanced broadband and other high-speed connections, Dispatch reporters Jim Siegel and Tim Feran said. “Ohio’s current requirements that ‘companies of last resort’ continue to service landlines, regardless of cost, would delay transition to the modern services ‘that consumers and businesses demand.’”

The reporters say certain lawmakers have received letters supporting the plan from a variety of areas, including the Stark Development Board, Tuscarawas Community Improvement Corp. and the Belmont County Port Authority, among others.

One advocate was outspoken in his support, according to the paper.

“Better utilizing high-speed broadband and wireless applications is critical for our rural communities to survive and thrive in today’s Internet marketplace,” wrote Joel Pierre of Appalachian Gateway (News - Alert) Development. “I ask you to support any upcoming telecommunications legislation that will encourage investment in (high-speed) infrastructure.”

But Ohio Gov. Kasich remains firm in his conviction that everyone involved needs to slow down a bit.

“Given that the Federal Communications Commission is still writing the regulations on this issue and no one knows exactly what they will say, it’s premature to take these kinds of actions right now,” said the governor’s spokesman, Rob Nichols. “We are hopeful we can avoid a veto, and there are a lot of good conversations taking place.”

That’s political-speak for “not happenin’.” How far lawmakers will go before they lock horns remains to be seen.

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