Utilities are the things we use every day yet often take for granted. They are the most basic services such as electricity, water, natural gas, and sewage. Most homeowners and renters are accustomed to paying their utility bills, although some rental companies pay for certain essentials (water is the most common). Telephone services are often considered utilities, although this refers to landlines and not cell phones. In the United States, you may or may not be able to choose your utility or phone company due to the high costs associated with delivering these services to a particular geographic area. Essentially, there are lots of monopolies in the utility business. This is especially true when it comes to electricity. Local governments tend to create contracts with a small number of companies, which basically creates publicly owned utilities. This practice is very common in urban areas because they have high populations, which makes it nearly impossible to deliver these services without having a uniform system of distribution. In sparsely populated areas, you will usually find cooperative utility systems. These are owned by the consumers directly without any involvement from local governmental bodies or officials. The monopolistic nature of the utility business is subject to its fair share of controversy. Proponents of free market economics, such as members of the libertarian party, oppose this kind of government domination of industry. However, most Americans are not overly concerned with the structure and management of utility companies as long as are able to have access to the energy they need. In some lesser developed parts of the country, consumers are forced to do business with a single local telephone service provider, although cell phones offer a solution to this problem of limited choice.