MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Telecommunications company CenturyLink has asked Minnesota utility regulators to ease a decades-old rule that requires it to give priority for repairs to landline customers, saying the requirement is obsolete in an era dominated by broadband communications.
CenturyLink, a unit of Lumen Technologies, is the largest provider of copper landline phone service in Minnesota and one of the few companies still serving that segment. It petitioned the state’s independent Public Utilities Commission this week to bring its rules up to date, saying customer choices and demands have changed dramatically since the rules were drafted, before the first handheld cellphone appeared on the US market in the 1980s.
“Prioritizing landline voice service made sense in 1983,” the company wrote in its petition Monday. “Today, it hampers deployment of broadband to Minnesota, harms broadband customers and harms the public interest. It is time for a change.”
The rules set a goal that landline outages should be restored within 24 hours of being reported. CenturyLink says that forces it to spend a disproportionate amount of technician time on landline repairs compared with broadband repairs. And the rules don’t apply to CenturyLink competitors that just provide wireless, internet-based and other broadband communications, which the PUC generally doesn’t regulate.