Christopher Baker is a senior strategic policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute. He works on issues that affect the availability, affordability and use of essential telecommunications and home energy services.

A Cellphone-Only World? Not So Fast

Is the landline “good as dead”? That’s what some media outlets would have you believe from their coverage earlier this year of a report on cellphone-only households. This sensational message makes for eye-catching headlines — but a closer look reveals a different story. Most Americans Still Live in Landline Households Many U.S. households have ditched their landlines and now rely solely on cellphones, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Indeed, the data show …

More States Hang Up on Telecom Complaints

Each year, tens of thousands of frustrated consumers contact their state utility commission when they have a problem with a telecommunications provider. Most turn to the commission after unsuccessfully attempting to resolve the issue with their company. Utility commissions traditionally have the expertise and authority to resolve disputes fairly and effectively, as well as the capacity to work with consumers on an individual basis. We Can’t Hear You Now However, a growing number of states have recently decided to take …

Community Digs Deep for Superfast Broadband

Frustration with sluggish, expensive or unavailable broadband has prompted a growing number of communities to find other options. Some 89 cities and towns in the U.S. have launched their own fiber-to-the-home networks, which many experts say is the fastest and most reliable way to access the Internet. The result: Places such as Chattanooga, Tenn., Bristol, Va., and Lafayette, La., now offer Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second,  or about 100 times faster than today’s average broadband speeds. …

High-Speed Networks Give Communities an Age-Friendly Advantage

Affordable access to high-speed Internet networks provides communities with a powerful platform to help meet the challenges – and take advantage of the opportunities – associated with an aging population. This approach to community development deserves more attention from supporters of both age-friendly communities and community broadband networks. High-speed Internet connectivity enables a growing array of applications and services that create and enhance opportunities for health, participation and independence for older Americans.  A recent AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) report …

Ensuring Affordable, Reliable Communications Services

Phone companies are moving from traditional copper-wire telephone technology to wireless and broadband Internet-based services and standards. This transition clearly has advantages for consumers. But the abandonment of old-fashioned wireline service also raises concerns that some existing services may become unaffordable, unreliable or unavailable altogether. For many older adults in particular, such an outcome could have disruptive or dangerous consequences. Here are just a few of the public comments consumers filed in response to a Verizon proposal to permanently replace its copper …