WCCC Testimony in Favor of Special Session Assembly Bill 14

By Marvin Walker
WCCC Board Chair
May 3, 2011

As a Milwaukee resident, Wisconsin consumer, and Board Chair of the Wisconsin Coalition for Consumer Choice, I believe the Telecom Modernization bill (SSAB 14 / SSSB 13 is in the interest of Wisconsin consumers. The legislation will create more competition by providing consumers more choices, and greater product innovation while maintaining strong consumer protections at no additional cost to Wisconsin consumers.

The Wisconsin Coalition for Consumer Choice (WCCC) advocates on behalf of more than 16,000 citizens and community-based organizations throughoutWisconsin.  We are committed to defending and protectingWisconsinconsumer choices.

The telecom modernization bill will benefit Wisconsin consumers by giving them greater choices. Passage of telecom modernization would allow multiple providers to enter the marketplace giving our supporters more choices in service and product offerings. Those choices will ensure our supporters pay fair market value for services, and will also create a competitive marketplace which will create incentives for providing better services to consumers.

The bill also makes it easier for new providers to enter the marketplace with the creation of a statewide certification process for new competitors.

This bill enhances Wisconsin consumer protections that Wisconsin consumers rightfully deserve. Currently, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission receives all land-line telephone complaints. This bill moves the complaints to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, who handles complaints of cell-phone providers and many other services Wisconsin consumers utilize.

The bill also maintains Lifeline Service and Wisconsin’s “Do Not Call List”. Service in rural areas ofWisconsinwill continue for its current customers because of federal requirements to provide local service if a telephone company is receiving government support, which rural providers heavily depend on.

A recent study by the National Centerfor Health Statistics showed that in July 2009 only 15 percent of Wisconsin households relied solely on cell-phones. In just one year, the number of households inWisconsinrelying solely on cell-phones has risen to 25 percent. Telephone companies aren’t abandoning consumers; consumers are making a choice that best fits their needs.

We believe this Special Session Assembly Bill 14/ Special Session Senate Bill 13  is good for consumers because it provides more competition, more choices and maintains strong consumer protections with no fees or taxes passed on to Wisconsin consumers.

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