Consumer Protections, Service Quality, and Reliability

Telecommunications and utility services are essential to health, safety, and economic welfare. These services must be reliable, safe, and affordable. Customers should expect high standards of customer service and consumer protections.

Service quality and consumer protection regulations help protect consumers. Challenges include inadequate service, fraud, misrepresentations, unfair trade, and deceptive advertisements and practices.

The adoption of minimum standards gives providers clear service objectives. Standards also improve provider accountability. And they allow consumers to compare providers more easily so they can make the best choice.

Reliable and resilient infrastructure is also necessary to support utilities and telecommunications. Natural disasters frequently leave many without power for days or even weeks. Without electricity, consumers can also lose access to communications and water service.

Severe weather emergencies are not the only challenges. Consumers can lose access to utilities for other reasons. This can include an old and failing infrastructure system. For example, phone service may be of poor quality. And a growing number of communities do not have access to a safe water supply. Some consumers face utility cutoffs because they cannot afford to pay off their bills. Payment plans can help them maintain service as they pay off their utility debt.