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Telephone network transition frequently asked questions

September 26, 2016

Are telephone companies withdrawing service from my area? Why?

Incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) in Ohio are not presently seeking to withdraw basic local exchange service. When/if a company wants to withdraw, the company must receive approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and must notify the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and affected customers of their withdrawal. Both the FCC and PUCO have processes in place to protect consumers.

If a company withdraws basic local exchange service, what other telephone options do I have?

Prior to a company withdrawing BLES, there must be a reasonable and comparatively-priced alternative voice service available to you. Voice services may be provided by competitive wireline, wireless/cellular or cable/broadband/digital phone (VOIP) companies. Your current telephone service provider may offer an alternative voice service.

What if there is a power outage and I have digital phone (VOIP) service? The cellular service in my area isn’t reliable, what can be done to ensure I have reliable service?

The PUCO and FCC require alternative services to be reliable. Alternative service providers are upgrading technologies for cellular coverage and battery backups. When researching alternatives, the PUCO recommends asking the providers for details including costs for additional services such as battery backups.

My device [medical, TTY, alarm, fax, etc.] relies on telephone lines, will my device work with alternative services?

Prior to a telephone company receiving approval from the FCC, alternative services must be compatible with devices that rely on existing wireline service. When researching alternatives, ask the service provider if your device is compatible with the new technology.

What can I do to keep my basic local exchange service?

While recent legislation allows for companies to withdraw basic local exchange service, if you believe that no reasonable and comparatively-priced alternative service exists for you, you can file a petition to notify the PUCO that you may be left without voice service within 30 days of receiving a withdrawal notice from the telephone company. Again, no carriers in Ohio are presently seeking to withdraw BLES.

Where can I find more information?

To learn more about the telephone network transition, visit the PUCO website at www.PUCO.ohio.gov or call (800) 686-PUCO (7826).