Kansas bill loosens regulations on AT&T wireline service

The largest wireline provider in Kansas, AT&T (NYSE: T), could soon be able to avoid a cap on standalone wireline rates imposed by the state thanks to a bill that Gov. Sam Brownback says he will sign. While supporters say the bill will improve the business climate in Kansas, opponents worry that rural or poor residents who have only a single landline will have to pay more for that service, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports.

The bill states that a provider that has the majority of landlines in an area with a deregulated exchange can apply to have prices in the exchange area deregulated.

Republican state Rep. Forrest Knox opposed the legislation, pointing out that rural customers don't have the number of product choices for voice service that urban customers do, and that if AT&T pushes more customers toward bundled services, prices for voice-only, fixed-line service could jump quickly. Supporters of the bill say that prices will probably rise gradually.

AT&T spokespeople, meanwhile, say that the new law would make Kansas' legislation similar to that of other states.

For more:
- BusinessWeek has this article

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