Bill could limit land line phones

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A bill in the General Assembly could do away with regulations requiring phone companies to provide land line connections to new customers.

That bill was read on the house floor Monday. If passed, phone companies could turn down hooking up a land line if there's cell phone reception in that area.

Opponents of the bill fear some people could be stuck without a reliable connection during an emergency. Many people rely exclusively on their cell phone for service and a new bill in the General Assembly could force others to do the same.

Identical bills are going through both chambers at the state capitol.

Karen McKnight says everyone should be able to have a land line if they want one.

"Have your cell phone if you'd like," she said. "It's very hard to find a payphone anymore but I think the land line is extremely important."

Opponents of the bill say cell phones are not reliable enough during emergencies.

"There have already been problems," McKnight said. "The 9/11 problem, Katrina, when people were depending on their cell phones and then the whole system was jammed up and they couldn't get through to anybody."

Many people have ditched their land line phone and only use their cell phone, but some of these same people say they would like to have a land line phone, only for emergencies.

Charles Troy got rid of his land line to save money but isn't afraid he'll need it again during an emergency.

"In a bad situation I could always go out to my car and charge up my cell phone and go," he said.

This bill was approved in a House committee by 20-1 vote. The Senate version of this bill is still in committee. Neither sponsor of this bill could be reached for comment.

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