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Rally Cry Sounds to Save Landlines from Extinction

As AT&T and other major carriers look to do away with traditional landline service by the end of the decade, opponents are lining up against the move or at the least, to give consumers plenty of warning that it’s happening.

One such group is the AARP, which has concerns about its members’ access to emergency services.

"While AARP embraces new technology and we understand an increasing number of seniors have wireless smartphones, our members are telling us they dont want to lose their landline phone service," wrote Michigan AARP president Thomas Kimble, in the Lansing State Journal. "They want the security of having both types of service."

In Michigan, a bill is making its way through the legislature that would allow carriers to stop offering landline service beginning Jan. 1, 2017. The law would only require giving customers three-months notice before pulling the plug.

"We are fighting to ensure that our members and all Michigan families have reliable, affordable phone service they can count on, especially during extreme weather like we recently experienced, or other emergencies," Kimble wrote. "This bill puts reliable phone service at risk for all Michigan consumers, from Lansing, to Detroit, to Traverse City, to the Upper Peninsula."

The AARP of Michigan polled 1,300 of its members and found that 85 percent have landlines, while 84 percent have wireless service. The lion’s share of that group said they don’t want to go wireless-only. A whopping 97 percent, according to the agency, oppose the new bill.

Current law states that any technology that replaces landlines must be at least as good and must include consumer protections. The AARP argues that wireless at this point in time doesn’t meet those requirements.

Meantime, the FCC expects to approve a plan in January that would rewrite the legal, policy and technical issues that govern telephone services to make sure that operators complete the move to IP-based services.

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