When it comes to choices for telecommunications services, consumers in Connecticut have more options than ever. One need only turn on their television to see the multitude of advertisements for wireless, home phone, cable and internet services

Given these choices, consumers, including seniors, are abandoning old technology for newer ones. In Connecticut, some 10,000 customers a month are switching from traditional wireline phone service to newer, faster, and less expensive phone technology. 

Connecticut’s telecom laws have not kept pace with consumer demand and that’s why it’s important that the legislature pass long overdue telecom modernization legislation. Selfishly, this legislation provides many opportunities for seniors to become more involved and informed on many topics, including those offered on health and human services and the ever growing field of telemedicine.

House Bill 6402, “An Act Modernizing the State’s Telecommunications Laws,” would eliminate outdated regulations, many dating back to the days of the old rotary phone and party lines. Although many of us seniors can remember those days we now appreciate the advances in telecommunications and the benefits it brings to seniors. One only has to visit our senior center to realize that the senior of today bears no resemblance to those of past decades. By eliminating these unnecessary and costly rules, telecom companies can then take those resources that were going toward old technology and invest them in their new telecom networks of the 21st century.

Newer technology benefits all, particularly seniors, who are utilizing telemedicine and in-home health monitoring services that are helping them stay healthier and independent longer. 

I would hope that organizations like AARP would be supportive of modernizing telecommunications laws. AARP has embraced new technology and competes in the wireless phone service market by offering discounted service to its more than 7 million members nationwide, which is admirable. I would like these organizations to take a closer look at this legislation and see the benefit it brings to seniors while protecting those who continue and choose to enjoy the days of the rotary phone.

I have heard that AARP is telling seniors that if legislation is passed, their telecom competitors would be able to take away their landline phone. This doesn’t make sense and is simply is not true. Telecommunications providers are in the business of providing service, not taking service away. Furthermore, there is nothing in HB 6402 that would allow companies to stop offering basic local phone service in Connecticut.

Let’s pass House Bill 6402, “An Act Modernizing the State’s Telecommunication’s Laws,” and move on to the new Century.

Paula C. Ferrara is the executive director of the Estuary Council.