Denver Direct: Serious negative effects on CenturyLink’s customers

Monday, March 19, 2012

Serious negative effects on CenturyLink’s customers

by Dave Felice
State lawmakers are considering a bill that would have serious negative effects on CenturyLink’s customers and could force tough decisions and reduced investment in CenturyLink’s business in Colorado.

SB 12-157 singles out CenturyLink and targets its customers and employees with damaging reform while other carriers benefit.

What does the bill do?
· CenturyLink loses ~$50 million from the state High Cost Fund to provide voice services to customers in high-cost rural areas
· CenturyLink loses ~$12 million as the bill reduces the prices long distance companies pay to use our local CenturyLink network
· Prevents CenturyLink from recovering any of those losses while allowing other providers to recover their losses.
· Takes up to $40 million a year from the High Cost Fund to go to a government agency for rural broadband expansion, but without adequate oversight or controls.
· Claims to remove most regulation in Colorado but comes with many, many strings attached.

How does the bill impact CenturyLink in Colorado?
· Jobs and broadband investment at risk – A loss of $62 million will force CenturyLink to make tough decisions:
o Where does CenturyLink need to cut back to make up the loss?
o Can customers afford to pay the costs to provide service to high costs areas?
· Risks hundreds of millions of dollars in federal broadband grants – The bill would drastically change Colorado’s regulatory landscape and that could result in Colorado missing out on its share of the billions of dollars the FCC set aside for broadband development.
· Threatens broadband and voice availability and affordability for most rural consumers – Many rural consumers could lose their service altogether, or be asked to pay the actual cost of providing that service (which exceeds $200 per month in many areas).
· Chooses winners and losers among telecom providers and customers:
o Long distance carriers win: long distance phone companies save more than $10 million each year at our expense.
o Rural carriers win: their customers get continued high cost support, regulatory flexibility, and the ability to recover lost revenue. The bill cuts CenturyLink out.
o Unregulated, unaccountable broadband providers win: they get the opportunity to bid for broadband projects funded by dollars meant to keep rural phone rates low, with no process to ensure that the broadband networks ever get built.
o CenturyLink customers lose – without high cost support, the cost burden is left on the shoulders of our customers
o CenturyLink employees lose – $62 million per year means tough choices. If the bill passes, costs will have to be cut.

What can you do?
If you are interested in supporting CenturyLink employees and customers, you can send an email to legislators telling them Senate Bill SB157 is bad for Colorado. The following legislators will be discussing this bill in the first committee.
Sen. Lois Tochtrop: Senate District 24; [email protected] Cap phone 303 866 4863
Sen. Irene Aguilar: Senate District 32; [email protected] Cap phone 303 866 4852
Sen. Ted Harvey: Senate District 30; [email protected] Cap phone 303 866 4881
Sen. Cheri Jahn: Senate District 20; [email protected] Cap phone 303 866 4856
Sen. Shawn Mitchell: Senate District 23; [email protected] Cap phone 303 866 4876
Sen. Jean White: Senate District 8; [email protected] Cap phone 303 866 5292
Sen. Suzanne Williams: Senate District 28; [email protected] Cap phone 303 866 3432

If you wish to get more information on this bill, you may call Edie Ortega 303 992 5846 or [email protected] or Jeff Wirtzfeld 303 992 5814 or [email protected]