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Published: Friday, 10/23/2009

Consumer groups against Ohio phone deregulation


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Consumer groups are banding together to oppose Ohio legislation that would deregulate basic landline telephone service.

The Ohio Consumers' Counsel, AARP Ohio and other organizations said Friday that the legislation would increase rates, lessen consumer protections and decrease service quality.

Consumers' Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander says the bill would create a deregulated monopoly in some rural areas that don't have much competition. It would allow companies to raise rates for basic service $1.25 a year and give them more time to restore service outages.

However, a bipartisan group of lawmakers supporting the legislation, as well as the industry, say the change is needed to spur competition with other states and help create jobs.

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