Illinois Groups Differ on Future of Landline Phones

A group of businesses believes Illinois should stop investing money in landline telephones.  But a utilities organization says old-fashion phones still have a use in this new technology age.  Chris Slaby reports.

The businesses say more money in wireless communications would mean more jobs for Illinois.

They say nearly 20,000 related jobs were created last year alone.

David Vite is the chairman of the group. It includes AT&T, which could profit from such a deal.

Vite, though, says state policy should evolve with technology.

VITE: “Illinois’ law mandates investment in the 100-year old technology of wired telephones to your home. Those dollars would be better spent and used for private investment in broadband networks.”

But not so fast, says Jim Chilsen. The Citizens Utility Board spokesman says wireless communications can be improved in Illinois without affecting landlines.

He says some residents still rely on those phones because they’re often cheaper and, in some instances, more reliable.

CHILSEN: “My wife’s at home right now calls 911 and she passes out before she can speak. They’ll be able to trace that call exactly to my house. They can’t do that yet with cellphones.”

Lawmakers will have the final say this spring, when they’re expected to review the state’s expiring telecommunications law.

—Chris Slaby

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