FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Senate on Thursday passed a bill aimed at spreading wireless and high-speed broadband service by allowing telecommunications companies to cut back on landline investments.
Sen. Paul Hornback said his measure seeks to encourage investments by telecommunications companies to upgrade services in underserved rural areas, where residents want wider cellphone coverage and faster Internet service.
"Technology is moving very quickly ... all over the world," Hornback said. "And if we don't keep up, we're going to be left behind."
The Senate voted 34-4 to send the measure to the House, where similar versions died the past two years.
Current Kentucky law requires "carriers of last resort" to extend landline service to every home and business in the state. The measure would give telecommunications companies the freedom to provide wireless or voice over Internet services in some areas.
The bill's supporters include AT&T, which says the measure would give it the flexibility to spread newer technology to underserved areas.
Hornback, R-Shelbyville, said the latest measure includes protections to guarantee that rural residents won't have their landline service taken away if they want to keep it. If a storm knocks out landline service, the phone company would have to restore if requested to do so by customers, he said.