Bill to eliminate phone service before its time

A bill introduced in Michigan’s Senate in October by state Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, is gaining a bit more notice locally, namely from the Marquette County Board.

The board voted Tuesday to draft a resolution opposing Senate Bill 636 because it would allow telephone companies to eliminate landline service with 90 days notice after 2016. County commissioners contend it would cut off communications for those who live in remote areas that don’t have cell phone coverage, as well as a large elderly population that simply doesn’t use cell phones.

We agree with those sentiments and hope answers to these problems are realized before the bill takes effect.

According to his website, Nofs introduced the bill in advance of “coming changes in Federal Communications Commission requirements.”

While we applaud Nofs for his foresight, we hope he continues to use that particular skill in figuring out a way to keep people without access to cell phone coverage from being completely cut off from the outside world in a medical or other emergency simply because of where they live.

As many area residents know, there are plenty of places across the Upper Peninsula where cell phones just don’t work. In a place where trees vastly outnumber people, that fact should not be surprising.

In an interview posted on his website, Nofs is quoted as saying though the landline service will not be discontinued until 2017, “you’ve got to have a reliable system out there so people can call 911.”

We agree, but we hope Nofs and other legislators who may choose to vote for this measure would figure out what that system is before that date, and not hope it materializes out of thin air.