Your grandma’s lifeline telephone rate may not live as long as grandma. The bedrock basic service for the underprivileged and elderly will shortly begin its death spiral, along with jeopardized 911 service in many rural areas.
AT&T got a bill through the 2013 Nevada Legislature allowing Ma Bell to retire as telephone “provider of last resort” (POLR) should enough competitors become available, at least on paper.
I’ve reviewed testimony and can’t find any reason why this is needed other than the hyper-profitable corporation wants it. It is chillingly reminiscent of the ongoing rooftop solar debacle, where the Public Utilities Commission unilaterally killed the industry even through no one had brought a case and despite the facts.
Juice lobbyist Peter Ernaut, the man who created Gov. Sandoval, represents both AT&T and NVEnergy. (According to Forbes Magazine, independent research has proven that rooftop solar actually returns a substantial profit to non-solar ratepayers, but NVE has a huge PR budget.) A seemingly innocuous passage in a 2007 AT&T bill led to the demise of Sierra Nevada Community Access Television. (BarbanoMedia.com/charter.html)
To prove its current case, AT&T filed a sheaf of maps showing overlapping coverage via wireless competitors. Paperwork means nothing in Nevada’s vast outback. I get only sporadic reception at my house here in town.
“If you are relieved of your POLR obligations, there is potential that both basic network service and business line service could stop being provided,” PUC Assistant Staff Counsel Debrea Terwilliger told lawmakers, adding “If there is relief, that does open that door to stop providing service.”
Refusing to accept Nevada as a pioneering good example of deregulation, California’s legislature just killed this beast for the second time.
Although the PUC can only consider credentialed expert testimony in making decisions, cosmetic consumer hearings are scheduled statewide. Here are the dates for communities served by the Tribune and its sister newspapers: Hawthorne June 2; Reno-Sparks June 3; Pioche, Ely and Eureka July 7. For more info, go to the Barbwire expanded web edition at NevadaLabor.com/
MOMENT OF SILENCE. I received information that the unfortunate worker killed in a May 26 Lemmon Valley construction accident was trying to retrieve his dropped cel-phone when struck by heavy equipment. The driver reportedly felt a thud, then backed over him to see what caused it. Construction is a very dangerous job.
BLACK MARK. I just got final confirmation from the Public Broadcasting System ombudsman that the only PBS affiliate in the entire country that blacked out last February’s Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders debate was northern Nevada’s KNPB TV-5. Another PR coup for Mississippi West. (Barbwire 3-1-2016)
THE BIG 8-0. Bedridden Hall of Fame former Assemblymember Bob Price, D-North Las Vegas, turned 80 on May 23. I was honored to attend a small family party. His longtime colleague, former Sen. Joe Neal, D-N. Las Vegas, called in.
Nancy Price encourages visits to cheer up the great warrior and longtime Rail City resident. Send cards and flowers to ManorCare, 2350 Wingfield Hills Rd., Sparks 89436.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 47-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and member of Communications Workers Local 9413/AFL-CIO. As always, his comments are strictly his own. E-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.