In a March 18 letter to State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Verizon New Jersey President Dennis Bone stated that Verizon “will not increase the monthly rate for standalone residential basic exchange service for two years” if Senate Bill 2664 becomes law.
This pledge suggests that Verizon may be planning to increase those rates after two years. Senators who vote for Senate Bill 2664 give Verizon free-reign to do that.
The reality is that 85% of states with similar deregulation bills saw rates for these services increase as much as 63% in two years. Providing 90% of basic landline services in New Jersey, Verizon essentially has a landline monopoly. Basic landline service rates are currently capped by state laws and regulations. To increase the rates, Verizon must apply to the Board of Public Utilities. Rate increase requests are rarely denied, simply moderated. If Senate Bill 2664 passes, however, the cap will come off and basic landline rates could easily skyrocket.
The potential negative consequences surrounding this bill are numerous, but what is clear is that it would endanger low-income seniors and others who rely on landlines. Almost 70% of older New Jerseyans reported in a recent AARP survey that they already have trouble paying household utility bills. Matters will only worsen if this bill passes.
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