CUB: The PSC Should Deny SBC’s Attempt to Deregulate Basic Residential Telephone Service

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Curt Pawlisch (608) 251-3322

The Public Service Commission (PSC) should deny SBC’s request to deregulate the price of basic residential phone service according to testimony filed yesterday by the Citizens Utility Board (CUB).

“SBC’s claims that the state can end regulation over the price of its basic residential service just don’t stand up to scrutiny,” says CUB attorney, Curt Pawlisch. “SBC says that competition is adequate to protect consumers in the residential market, but our expert testimony shows that this is not the case.”

Critical have been decisions made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that have made it far more difficult for companies to compete in the residential telecom market against corporate giants like SBC. In fact, according to CUB, those decisions led AT&T and MCI to exit the residential market and become merger bait for the incumbent monopolies.

“SBC wants to have it both ways. It pushes the FCC to decide in its favor against competitors, but now tells Wisconsin regulators that competition is adequate to protect residential customers,” Pawlisch said.

In testimony to the PSC, SBC also says that competition from wireless companies can protect residential customers from the impacts of deregulating basic residential phone service, but CUB’s expert witness testifies that even SBC’s CEO Ed Whitacre states that wireless phone service is not a substitute for residential service.

SBC seeks to end price regulation for basic residential service in the urban areas of its service territory. It is not seeking to end such regulation for its residential service in smaller communities. SBC is proposing to end price regulation for its customers who live in the following cities: Milwaukee, Madison, Appleton, Beloit, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Janesville, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Menomonee Falls, Neenah, Oshkosh, Racine, Sheboygan, Stevens Point and Waukesha.

“The PSC should deny SBC’s attempt to deregulate ‘plain old telephone service’ and preserve the regulatory protections against price increases that are in place today for this critical utility service,” Pawlisch said.

For a copy of CUB’s testimony, go to