FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2003

Toll Free Number

 800-684-6560

 (PA only)

CONTACT: Susan Henry, Consumer Liaison; e-mail: shenry@paoca.org

HARRISBURG B  Consumer Advocate Sonny Popowsky today urged members of the General Assembly to support telecommunications legislation that would protect Pennsylvania consumers and accelerate deployment of high-speed telecommunications services throughout Pennsylvania.

Speaking at a press briefing held by Representative Brett Feese in the State Capitol, Mr. Popowsky stated his support for House Bill 1669, which is sponsored by Representative Feese and more than 100 other House members.  At the same time, Mr. Popowsky noted his support for similar legislation sponsored by Representative Mike Veon as well as Senate legislation that is being introduced by Senator Jake Corman and Senator Connie Williams.

“What all these bills have in common is the recognition that the basic telephone services that all Pennsylvanians depend on must be preserved at affordable levels, while at the same time, high-speed broadband services must be deployed throughout Pennsylvania as rapidly as possible,” Popowsky said.

“The approaches taken by Representative Feese, Representative Veon, and Senators Corman and Williams are not identical,” Mr. Popowsky noted, “but each bill takes a strong pro-consumer approach to meeting the Commonwealth’s future telecommunications needs.”

According to Mr. Popowsky, each of the bills includes a number of essential elements, including: protection against large basic service rate increases, expansion of the federally funded Lifeline program that provides rate discounts of up to $100 per year to low-income Pennsylvania telephone customers, improvements in telephone service quality, a statewide inventory of high speed telecommunications service, and rapid deployment of high speed broadband service to underserved communities throughout all areas of Pennsylvania.

Copies of Mr. Popowsky’s legislative testimony on these telecommunications issues over the past year are available at the Office of Consumer Advocate’s Website at www.oca.state.pa.us .

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