Nearly One-Quarter of All Americans Have Cut the Cord; PSC Losing Clout

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on May 12, 2010 its twice a year report on the number of Americans who “cut the cord” and are using wireless telephone service only. According to the report, 24.5% had only wireless telephones during the last half of 2009, a 1.8% increase since the first half of 2009. A state-by-state breakdown was not provided.

The New York State Public Service Commission (“PSC”) www.dps.state.ny.us currently only exercises jurisdiction over traditional, wired telephone service and can only regulate wireless service after it conducts a hearing to determine that such a step is necessary. As a result, the PSC’s consumer protections and service quality requirements do not apply to one-quarter of the state’s telephone users using wireless phones only (these protections do not apply to Voice over Internet Protocol or cable telephony customers either, who make up about 30% of the state’s telecommunications market).

How can the PSC meet its proclaimed mission to “ensure safe, secure, and reliable access to . . . telecommunications . . . services for New York State’s residential and business consumers, at just and reasonable rates” when it no longer provides oversight of the terms and conditions of phone service to half of the marketplace?

Lou Manuta

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