I am writing in response to Maine Public Advocate Tim Schneider’s column about FairPoint Communications and other companies possibly being relieved of their telephone landline service obligations. The loss of basic landline service will affect about 29,000 customers, many of whom are elderly or disabled.

Many of Maine’s older residents rely heavily, even solely, on their landline for emergencies and for keeping in touch with loved ones. The loss of this service could be devastating. Cellphone service cannot substitute for an honest landline connection in most of Maine, and that’s why the loss of basic landline service could be devastating for rural Maine and our most vulnerable residents.

AARP is fighting to preserve affordable, reliable, accessible phone service for the elderly and other citizens, especially those who rely on basic local phone service as a lifeline to family, medical and other daily necessities. Many older Americans currently use landline service for medical monitoring of pacemakers, implantable cardiac defibrillators and other lifesaving devices. In addition, many homeowners use their landline service for home security, freeze alerts and to have a dependable phone connection during extreme weather.

AARP research shows that people ages 65 and older are more likely than any other age group to have landline telephone service in their home.

On behalf of our more than 230,000 members statewide, we hope that the Legislature will take a close look at the consequences that will result from eliminating landline service for the state’s most vulnerable residents. This is about making sure that consumers have access to a dependable communications service they can trust to meet their critical needs and to serve as a lifeline to preserve health and safety.

Japhet Els

AARP Maine Outreach director

Portland


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