justiceThe state of Kansas appears set to adopt legislation that would free AT&T and other telcos in the state from having to provide services to rural and low-income customers, the Wichita Eagle reports. The bill previously was passed in the state House of Representatives and last week passed the state Senate with amendments, the Eagle reports. The House now will have to approve the amended version but according to the report the legislation is “virtually assured” to become Kansas law.

If that happens, Kansas will join a growing number of states that have adopted similar legislation. Some such legislation — apparently including what is planned in Kansas – minimizes or eliminates carriers’ requirement to provide service to anyone who requests it. State-level legislation also quite often relaxes certain telecom service requirements.

According to the Wichita Eagle report, a few Kansas senators sought to preserve some of the consumer protections in current law, “but it’s unclear whether they succeeded.”

The report also notes that the law was written by AT&T in consultation with other telecom service providers that offer service in Kansas, repeating another pattern we have seen with previous state-level legislation that was also spearheaded by large incumbent telcos.

AT&T’s involvement is not surprising, considering that the company last year proposed to conduct a trial phase-out of traditional telephone service – an idea the FCC is still contemplating. At the time AT&T made the proposal, the company noted that its initial target would be states that have adopted laws that relive the carrier of traditional obligations.

According to the Wichita Eagle, AT&T has said it is unlikely to fully discontinue phone service in rural areas but might migrate some customers to a wireless offering.

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6 thoughts on “Kansas Poised to Adopt Pro-AT&T Legislation

  1. AT&T has done a great job in providing 3G and 4G service to the most rural areas of western Kansas, so this might not be a bad deal after all. Pretty much every square inch of the western half of the state is served quite well, places that are 20-30 miles from each other as well as the pastures and fields in between. Considering AT&T's record of covering rural areas with anything other than basic 2G/EDGE around the rest of the country, at first read this article was quite troubling for setting a precedent.

    1. Actually this is very troubling. I think you are being overly generous about their coverage in rural markets. But the larger point is they will be able to abandon their rural customers and force them into higher cost wireless plans. And for broadband, these wireless plans have caps and do not serve well as a wireline replacement service as a result.

      1. I was being complimentary about their rural service in Kansas, but not about their record in other parts of the country, which is not good at all, just Swiss cheese with large areas dependent on roaming.

  2. In rural markets in other states, you can find hundreds of locations that have -0- bars nowhere and nobody can hear you now. Even is some metropolitan areas, the old smart phone plays dumb and goes "Searching For A Signal." I wouldn't want to be a first responder or dependent on a first responder where our fabulous wireless industry was the provider of last resort. The wireless industry, and I mean all of them, are so far behind the power curve from 2G to 3G to 4G/LTE roll out that they are dying to catch up just in the urban areas. When it comes to rural, furgettaboutit!

    Meanwhile, a good friend sent me a presentation from an oil and gas conference where he was a speaker. The PowerPoint with an embedded video cost me 20% of my CAP with just one file (1.3Gb), and with 4G/LTE it took forever. I would kill for FiOS or fiber to my home or business.

  3. Actually – a lot western Kansas wireline is covered by some very good non-ATT co-ops who are very progressive in providing state of the art services to their customers/members. I am not as knowledgeable on wireless coverage but these same co-ops have plenty of fiber to get Fiber-to-the-Tower which would allow for better coverage. Just a reminder, not everybody is covered by ATT/Verizon – especially rural wireline.

  4. I work for one of the co-ops in Kansas. We have AT&T territory all around us. We are completely fiber to the home in our ILEC area. We would be willing to provide service to many of these AT&T customers but AT&T won't release as customers them so we can pick them up. We are highly regulated but AT&T doesn't seem to operate under the same rules that we do. We are a local home town company that takes pride in our service.

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