updated 11:05 am EDT, Fri April 1, 2011
AT&T bill in Kansas deregulates landline prices
The Kansas State Senate on Wednesday passed a bill sponsored by AT&T that would remove rate caps on landline services. Senate Bill 72 will let phone companies set rates to their liking and is expected to lead to increases to the basic dial-tone service, which costs between $15.50 and $16.50 a month before taxes and fees. The House also approved the bill in a voice vote.
The bill is supported by Republican Scott Schwab, who counts AT&T, Comcast, CenturyLink, Cox, and other telecommunications providers as significant contributors over the last few years. Democratic Representative Nile Dillmore also backs it, and received thousands in contributions from many of the same companies.
Opposing it was Republican Forrest Knox, the vice-chairman of the House Energy & Utilities Committee. He represents rural counties Wilson, Woodson and Greenwood in southeast Kansas. AT&T is the main and commonly the only provider to provide service to these areas. Knox believed the bill could let AT&T leave these areas and raise prices elsewhere.
Research done by local paper The Wichita Eagle shows that AT&T has historically raised rates in other states between 14 and 86 percent within four years of a deregulation. [via DSLReports]