Alabama Senate votes to deregulate phones

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama's largest phone company, AT&T, has persuaded the state Senate to pass legislation ending regulation of home and business phone services.

The Senate voted 19-8 Thursday for a bill that would give AT&T and other landline companies the same deregulated status as cell phone and Internet-based firms. The Legislature passed a law in 2005 that deregulated most of the landline phone business in Alabama.

The new bill sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham ends the Public Service Commission's regulation for residential customers with basic services and businesses with four lines of less.

AT&T spokesman Hood Harris says the bill creates a level playing field for phone companies.

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