State Representative Brian Banks (D-Harper Woods) was disappointed by the passage of Senate Bill 636, which could put landline telephone service in jeopardy across Michigan. Seniors who use medical alert devices – most of which currently work only through landline services – are in danger of losing this life-saving tool.

“This bill could be devastating to countless seniors who rely on landlines as their primary method of communication,” Banks said. “With technology constantly evolving, many seniors find comfort in knowing they do not have to buy every new cell phone or communication device that comes on the market – they’ve had the same, reliable telephone in their home for years.”

House Democrats say this does not take into account emergency situations such as a power outage, when cell phones cannot be charged and VoIP devices could not be powered. In the instance of a power outage, cell phones cannot be charged, and VoIP devices could not be powered. Furthermore, reliable wireless and broadband options are not available in every part of Michigan, which would make the use of landline telephone communication a necessity especially in the case of an emergency. Either way, studies have shown that landline services are much more reliable regarding 9-1-1 and emergency calls.

“This legislation does not make sense for all Michiganders,” said Banks. “Why should we replace a system that works with one that could possibly fail in the case of an emergency?” It is more expensive for service providers to install, replace and maintain copper wiring for landline services than it is to move to a newer technology such as wireless or VoIP. If passed, this bill would allow companies to remove already established copper wiring connection if they petition the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) successfully, leaving many in both rural and urban areas with no possibility of traditional landline services. Residents could appeal this, but at the expense of a mountain of paperwork.

“By passing this bill, Republicans are forcing Michiganders to go up against the decisions of the federal government and the FCC,” Banks said. “This bill puts profits before people, and that is not something I can support.”