The shift continues for the traditional telecommunications companies away from copper based voice and DSL data services to wireless and fiber. One of the road blocks that appears to be loosening are the Carrier of Last Resort (COLR) rules for carriers.
COLR rules are currently set at the state level (not the Federal Communications Commission) and regulate that every American has access to telephones service along with other utilities like electricity and water. A number of states have either passed legislation or are considering legislation that would end traditional landline rules and allow these services to be replaced by wireless (cell) or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. Bills have emerged in Mississippi, Kentucky, New Jersey and California. Ohio's Senate Bill 271 is a good example of legislation currently being reviewed by lawmakers to cut traditional landline services.
... besides preserving social contact, land-line phones are needed to protect seniors' health and safety. For instance, some seniors use the phone line to transmit routine health information from equipment in their home to their doctor's office.They can make an evaluation of a person's heart and how's it working, of their lungs, etc. That information would be very difficult to transmit over a cell phone.
This means that almost all of the remaining wires, networks or even the obligation to offer services over those wires and networks are all removed -- as much of this infrastructure is classified as "telecommunications". The Public Switched Telephone Networks, the utility, would suddenly be reclassified as an information service. Sayonara any telco rules, regulations and oh yes, your rights. Your service breaks... tough. Prices go up and there's no direct competition -- too bad. Networks weren't upgraded -- so what. Net Neutrality? Neutered.
Wireless service is great when it works. Wireless as carrier of last resort - someday yes but not just yet. AT&T has opened a window and the FCC now has an opportunity to step up and put a logical transitional process in place.