Michigan lawmakers look to phase out landlines

Herb Merrell says he needs his landline because his heart monitor uses the landline to transmit data back to his doctor.

Edward Benaway is legally blind. He depends on landline phone service.

â??If I don't have that, I don't know what Iâ??m going to do because I can't see to use the numbers,â?? says Benaway.

Cell phones are too small for him to use.

â??Landline, I need,â?? says Benaway.

Same goes for Herb Merrell.

â??Iâ??ve had the same phone number since 1954 that way I won't forget it,â?? says Merrell.

But it's more than just convenience for the grandfather of three.

â??Iâ??ve had some heart problems and there are some medical devices that require a landline,â?? says Merrell.

His heart monitor uses landline phone service to transmit data to his doctor.

â??I am concerned about their safety. If they have a cell phone and then they can't operate it, how will they call for assistance,â?? says Jean Johnson, director of the Burton Senior Activity Center.

AT&T officials say if the bill passes, you can still have a home phone but it will use the internet instead of wires.

â??The internet allows us to send pictures, emails, videos and our voice over that exact same wire, that's what this transition is about,â?? says Matt Resch, spokesman for AT&T of Michigan.

However, seniors are hoping they're not left out of the transition.

â??Itâ??s not so easy for us older folks,â?? says Merrell.

â??I do need this landline,â?? adds Benaway.

AT&T officials add, transferring the service wouldn't cost seniors a lot of money. They also say the service would not be interrupted due to power outages because of back-up battery power.

The Michigan House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill by the end of the week.