A Bad Deal for Pennsylvania: Raising Phone Rates and Putting Telephone Service at Risk

A new report documents that a telecommunications deregulation bill being consider in Pennsylvania will hurt rural access to broadband service and sharply increase telephone rates.

HB 1608 is part of a wave of deregulation bills introduced around the country in recent years. Like similar bills in other states, it is structured to increase the profits of telecommunications companies while raising phone rates and putting quality telephone service at risk in Pennsylvania. The bill allows telephone companies in Pennsylvania to raise rates with only one day’s advance notice by largely eliminating the Public Utility Commission’s oversight of basic telephone service in Pennsylvania. After years of price stability for Pennsylvania telephone consumers, this bill will likely lead to significant price increase across the state. HB 1608 particularly threatens access to broadband in rural areas. Pennsylvania currently has a higher rate of broadband access in rural areas (93.2 percent) than the nation as a whole (76.3 percent). Of the 23 states with more than a million rural residents, Pennsylvania has the highest share of residents with first generation broadband access. Among the 50 states, only Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island provide access to a higher percentage of rural residents.


A Bad Deal for Pennsylvania: Raising Phone Rates and Putting Telephone Service at Risk