SB-157 Risks Vital Connection for 400,000 Rural Colorado Consumers, According to CenturyLink "Telecommunications Modernization" could force removal of service in high cost areas
DENVER, March 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- SB-157, introduced this week by state Sen. Mark Scheffel (R – District 4), targets CenturyLink customers in rural, hard-to-serve areas and could result in a loss of their telecommunications service. The bill would shift tens of millions of dollars of the state High Cost Fund, leaving rural Coloradans with extremely high phone bills or without service at all.
"CenturyLink serves nine-out-of-10 customers in areas that receive support from the state's High Cost Fund. This bill targets only our customers, and places the burden on them to cover the cost to receive services. Both the company and our customers will be forced to make tough decisions," said Kenny Wyatt, mountain region president for CenturyLink. "Just because $60M vanishes, that doesn't mean the cost to serve rural Coloradans goes away. If SB-157 passes, their phone bills will go up, or in some cases, it just may be too expensive to serve them."
"SB-157 is bad policy. Lawmakers should not pick winners and losers amongst Colorado rural customers simply based on their provider. That is what this bill does," said Jim Campbell, regional vice president for regulatory and legislative affairs.
The High Cost Fund, overseen by the Public Utilities Commission, was created through fees paid by every landline and wireless voice customer in the state with the purpose of making a telephone line accessible and affordable in high cost areas. SB-157 seeks to shift that money to the Governor's Office of Information Technology. Over the next 10 years, the bill would provide more than $300 million to the governor's IT department.
"This is about customers who depend on a reliable phone connection for their safety, their businesses and staying in touch with friends and family," said Wyatt. "This bill seems to forget them."
CenturyLink is the third largest telecommunications company in the United States. The company provides broadband, voice, wireless and managed services to consumers and businesses across the country. It also offers advanced entertainment services under the CenturyLink™ Prism™ TV and DIRECTV brands. In addition, the company provides data, voice and managed services to enterprise, government and wholesale customers in local, national and select international markets through its high-quality advanced fiber optic network and multiple data centers. CenturyLink is recognized as a leader in the network services market by key technology industry analyst firms, and is a global leader in cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions for enterprises through Savvis, a CenturyLink company. CenturyLink's customers range from Fortune 500 companies in some of the country's largest cities to families living in rural America. Headquartered in Monroe, La., CenturyLink is an S&P 500 company and is included among the Fortune 500 list of America's largest corporations. For more information, visit www.centurylink.com.