Commission Lists Alternative Providers to Talk America

The Michigan Public Service Commission in late January posted on its website a list of alternative providers of voice telephone service with reliable access to 911 and emergency services for customers who will need a new provider as Talk America Services LLC, prepares to exit Michigan’s local exchange market.

In August, Talk America filed notice proposing to discontinue providing basic local exchange and toll service for its Michigan customer base, at the time about 4,600 customers. As of Jan. 10, Talk America reported having 1,768 customers.

The Michigan Public Service Commission in a Dec. 19 order found that Talk America had complied with state and federal requirements for serving notice of the discontinuance of service. The commission received a dozen complaints or comments from Talk America customers about the lack of availability of alternative providers of comparable voice service with reliable access to 911 and emergency services.

The commission then commenced an investigation into the availability of comparable voice service, directing all incumbent local exchange carriers and competitive local exchange carriers operating in Talk America’s service area to file statements listing all of the specific types of comparable voice service with reliable access to 911 and emergency services that they provide in that service area. The commission also asked Talk America to delay discontinuance of service while the investigation took place. It is the commission’s understanding that Talk America planned discontinuance after Feb. 3.

Since the December order, more than 80 providers filed statements in this case. With the January order, the Michigan Public Service Commission published a list of alternative providers that offer comparable voice service with reliable access to 911 and emergency services access, on the commission’s website at michigan.gov/documents/mpsc/U-20623exba_01.23.20_679191_7.pdf.

The commission encourages affected customers to make arrangements with alternative providers as soon as possible to avoid disruption of their phone service. Current Talk America customers who don’t have access to the internet or who have other concerns may contact the commission customer assistance staff at (800) 292-9555.

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