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    HomeNewsMayor John Erickson Raises Concerns on AT&T's Potential Removal of Landline Service...

    Mayor John Erickson Raises Concerns on AT&T’s Potential Removal of Landline Service in WeHo

    On January 22, 2024, AT&T California sent a letter to its West Hollywood customers informing them that the phone services carrier has submitted an application to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that, if approved, would remove AT&T’s obligation under California law to provide traditional landline phone service in a large portion of service territory in California.

    The letter described an application that has not yet been approved by the CPUC. No changes are being made to service at this time.

    However, if the CPUC approves AT&T’s application as proposed, it would mean:

    • AT&T would continue providing traditional landline phone service to existing customers until all federal and state regulatory processes are completed. AT&T has also committed to providing service to existing traditional landline phone customers for at least six months after the CPUC approves the application.
    • Before making any changes to traditional landline phone customers’ services, AT&T would provide advance notice about choices for changing existing service to either a different voice service available from AT&T, or a voice service offered by another provider in the area.
    • AT&T would remain the COLR in areas where no alternative voice services are yet available and continue to provide traditional landline phone service to their customers until proven alternatives become available.

    West Hollywood resident Jerome Cleary brought the AT&T notice to the attention of West Hollywood City Hall expressing concerns on potentially unreliable Wi-Fi phone services. “If a handicapped, or senior, or any resident needed to call 911 and could not do it with their cell phone then a hard-wired home phone line is the only consistent valuable, safe, and practical option,” he wrote in the email.

    In response, West Hollywood Mayor, John Erickson wrote a letter to Alice Busching Reynolds, President of California Public Utilities Commission on March 13, 2023, where he expressed his strong opposition to any action that would allow AT&T to end its COLR obligation without another landline option available to the residents of this state as well as those in West Hollywood.

    “Permitting A T&T to terminate its COLR obligation will have adverse effects on the elderly population in this state, particularly those who are often the most vulnerable and reliant on timely emergency medical assistance,” he wrote. “I acknowledge the growing preference for wireless phones among the majority of the population. However, Californians need dependable access to communication services, particularly in emergency situations. There is value in maintaining a landline, particularly in light of the widespread AT&T cellular outage that took place on February 22, 2024, which affected millions of AT&T customers across the country.”

    Although Mr. Cleary expressed gratitude for Mayor Erickson’s response, he also points out that time is of essence for the public to chime in their own concerns as the CPUC reviews AT&T’s application.

    Public hearings have been scheduled to allow for discussions with potentially affected residents. Online meetings are scheduled for March 19 at 2 p.m and 4 p.m. and can be accessed at adminmonitor.com/ca/cpuc or by calling 1 (800) 857-1917 and using passcode 6032788#. Potentially impacted residents can leave public comment on the CPUC’s web site regarding the two AT&T applications. Comments on the COLR application can be left at bit.ly/ATTCOLR and comments regarding the ETC application can be left at bit.ly/ATTETC.

    Mayor Erickson’s complete letter to the President of CPUC is below:

    Dear President Reynolds,

    I am writing to you in my individual capacity as Mayor of the City of West Hollywood to express my concerns regarding AT&T’s application to end its Carrier of Last Resort (COLR) obligation in the State of California.

    I am strongly opposed to any action that would allow AT&T to end its COLR obligation without another landline option available to the residents of this state as well as those in West Hollywood. Permitting A T&T to terminate its COLR obligation will have adverse effects on the elderly population in this state, particularly those who are often the most vulnerable and reliant on timely emergency medical assistance.

    I acknowledge the growing preference for wireless phones among the majority of the population. However, Californians need dependable access to communication services, particularly in emergency situations. There is value in maintaining a landline, particularly in light of the widespread A T&T cellular outage that took place on February 22, 2024, which affected millions of AT&T customers across the country. The advantages of having a landline include:

    • Landlines remain operational during power or wireless phone outages. During the February 22 outage, the San Francisco Fire Department issued statements on social media advising people to use landlines if they were unable to call 9-1-1 on their mobile devices. Additionally, in the event of power outages caused by high winds or the risk of wildfires, landlines offer an alternative means for emergency responders to relay information to residents and for residents to communicate with first responders.

    • Related to cases of medical emergencies, landlines remain linked to specific addresses, simplifying the task for first responders to accurately reach the intended location. In contrast, wireless phones frequently transmit to a more generalized location.

    • Although security systems can operate from cellular technology, some security system providers offer cost-effective programs if a customer chooses to use a landline security system program.

    Additionally, residents in both rural and urban areas of California frequently encounter natural disasters such as earthquakes, flooding, and fires. During these emergency situations, our reliance on landlines becomes crucial. Unlike wireless connections, which can be unreliable, and cellular phones that may run out of battery power, copper landlines maintain stronger receptions even during power outages. This underscores the significance of landlines as one of the most vital tools for residents to reach out to us when, not if, an earthquake occurs.

    Additionally, the cellular coverage maps for California reveal regions where AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile lack coverage. If the CPUC proceeds to endorse A T&T’s COLR application without implementing an alternative landline option, residents in those areas could be left without any telephone services, posing a significant concern for public safety.

    I urge the CPUC to thoroughly assess the potential consequences not only for West Hollywood but also for those residing throughout California when evaluating AT&T’s COLR application.

    I appreciate your time and attention to this matter and am happy to answer any questions that you may have.

    Sincerely,
    John M. Erickson
    MAYOR

    C:
    Hon Adam Schiff, U.S. Representative
    Hon Ben Allen, SD-24
    Hon Rick Chavez Zbur, AD-51

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    Paulo Murillo
    Paulo Murillohttps://wehotimes.com
    Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, which include the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, where he covered breaking news and local events in West Hollywood. He can be reached at [email protected]

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    hifi5000
    hifi5000
    Offline
    20 days ago

    If AT&T no longer wants to provide the traditional copper landline service,they could just sell the service to another phone provider.They have been neglecting the service for some time in favor of wireless service.Landline service has been proven to be very reliable and I am dismayed AT&T is willing to shut it down.

    West
    West
    Offline
    21 days ago

    Thanks Jerome for raising the issue. Erickson actually got this one right.

    Tom
    Tom
    Offline
    23 days ago

    Most emergency phones in elevators are land lines I believe (I know they are in my building) when the power goes out and you’re stuck in there and there’s no hard-wired line that’s powered like a traditional land line who are you gonna call, Ghostbusters?

    Pierce
    Pierce
    Offline
    24 days ago

    I, too, am a longstanding AT&T landline subscriber, as well as a longtime West Hollywood resident, and senior (with a disability), who is strongly against the removal of the AT&T landline for the very reasons–and more–stated in the letter, above. Thank you.

    Last edited 24 days ago by Pierce
    The Real Zam
    The Real Zam
    Offline
    24 days ago

    If AT&T wants to eliminate landline (copper) based services, they need to have direct FttH (Fiber to the Home) available as an alternative. The problem isn’t so much the lack of land line service, it is the lack of direct physical internet connectivity. Cellular coverage is spotty and unreliable. It also introduces excessive latency (the time it takes data to travel through the pipe), especially when further routed over local WiFi. We need to mandate hard wired internet so customers have the option to hard wire their local devices in order to bypass the lack of reliability of both WiFi… Read more »

    Paul
    Paul
    Offline
    24 days ago

    Landlines are a public safety essential. I remember from the ’94 earthquake — nothing worked in my decimated area. No electrical or water. But, I could make a phone call. Being able to connect with my family and friends plus emergency was heart-lifting. The one thing I learned from that, is always have a land line. I still have one.

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