South Carolina Disconnects Time Warner Phone Service

The South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld a ruling by the state's utility commission, preventing Time Warner Cable from deploying phone service into some rural communities there.

The state Public Service Commission justified its ruling in 2004, citing federal policy that protects local exchange carriers from competition, in order to keep rates reasonable for remote phone customers. According to legal arguments, rural LECS subsidize delivery of phone service to consumers in lightly populated areas with the revenues they earn in more populated communities. 

If Time Warner were to move into a LEC's territory and poached urban customers, rates would have to rise in the rural areas to make up for the lost customers, and the rural homes would not be able to escape for Time Warner won't deploy VOIP to those less-dense areas.

Time Warner Cable Information Services South Carolina lost its case at the trial level in Richland County, but brought the appeal, which was argued in February. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal March 31. 

The ruling prevents competition with rural phone companies serving Berkeley, Lexington, Sumter, Williamburg and York counties, including PBT Telecom Inc., Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Fort Mill Telephone Co., Home Telephone Co. and St. Stephen Telephone Co.