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SierraSal's profile

Tutor

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5 Messages

Tue, Oct 15, 2019 7:12 PM

Landline phase-out in 2020?

In Northern California, we just had ~ 2 million people without power, due to high fire risk and PG&E intentionally shutting off all power.  During that time, only the true copper wire AT&T landlines worked well.  Verizon cellular worked in most places, ATT cell service and those using their towers did not.  Now there is a rumor going around that AT&T is going to phase out copper wire landlines in 2020.  This would be a real blow to our region's safety during the new normal of power outages during high fire danger periods.  What is AT&T's plan?

spoom2

ACE - Master

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12.8K Messages

2 y ago

I haven't seen anything official on this since 2017, if you have a link please post it.  See this topic

Tutor

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5 Messages

2 y ago

I agree.  I've done a basic internet search and there is nothing definitive.  I'm exploring this as my community is so very concerned about fire danger and the ability to effectively communicate during these potentially critical times.

Teacher

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12 Messages

2 y ago

There are actually a lot of reports that AT&T plans to phase out its entire copper wire phone system by 2020, including California that remains one of the only states where it is the dominate carrier that hasn’t yet gotten permission to phase it out.  Lots of coverage of Illinois just allowing them to do it, which eliminated the life line low cost phone for low income people.  Apparently FCC allows them to do it if they can show alternatives, which is why they are pushing their fiber lines as the alternative with digital phone service (dead in fire, earthquake etc).  20 or so states have allowed them to phase out.  Verizon offloaded its copper wire in Southern California to Frontier which is on the verge of collapse.  I found this out a few weeks ago when talking to an ATT agent (actually based in California, not one of their off-shore call centers.). I wanted to change something on my landline billing and he told me I was grandfathered and if I made any changes, I could not get it back because they were planning to end copper service soon..i.e. 2020.  Probably being kept quiet until they move in Sacramento to get permission to shut it down once fiber is widely available...

Contributor

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1 Message

2 y ago

We were without power for almost 3 days, had backup generators but not landline or WIFI.  My question is why were these lines out, if PGE was the cause, shouldn't ATT have back up generators.  Also, no satisfaction from customer service, it took talking to 4 people to find out the problem was ATT not in our home. We live in an area with little or no cell service so with our back up generator we thought we could still use ATT, no such luck. Funny thing is we did have Satellite Direct TV, so why can't Direct TV have as part of their service WIFI and a telephone service?  We live in Napa and in October of 2017 we were surrounded by fire and ATT have to put in all new lines due to the destruction of their equipment.  The new lines are fiber optic so no power in the lines. We've made adjustments and have spent a considerable amount of money to adjust to the new way of doing things, but I guess ATT hasn't. 

 

Tutor

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5 Messages

2 y ago

Thanks for the information.  Hopefully CA will push back and at least insist that AT&T cell towers will work reliably in a power outage, before allowing the discontinuation of copper land lines.  A week ago some people were without any means of communication in the midst of our greatest fire danger in two years.  It could have been a real disaster with lives lost and AT&T ending up with $20+ billion in liability just like PG&E.  Nevada County, Nevada City and Grass Valley police and sheriff's vehicles are now equipped with an emergency evacuation siren, telling us to drop everything and run for our lives--but phone alerts should be happening, as well.
spoom2

ACE - Master

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12.8K Messages

2 y ago

See this topic around post 12 for explanation about generators. 

spoom2

ACE - Master

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12.8K Messages

2 y ago

@breezeuser Where are you finding these reports.  Have a links?  I'm still not finding anything new. Many companies have back off due to states pressure of leaving many thousands of people without service, especially in the rural areas.   You are correct about not being able to get a POTS back if there's other service available.

dm2850

Teacher

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47 Messages

2 y ago

There is no new information on this on the web.  AT&T actually had a copper to fiber migration website that has since been taken down.  And, when I got my new landline last year I was told that for the first time AT&T was retraining representatives on how to take orders and service the traditional landlines on their system.  I don't really know what this means but I think instead of phasing out regular landlines they are going to price people out of them.  My landline bill was $26 (including taxes and fees) two years ago for unlimited local calls, caller ID and call waiting.  Now it's $45. 

 

My employer has over 10,000 landlines at over 600 locations.  My work site has 150-200.  All the wiring and equipment is in place.  I would assume it would take a lot of planning and ample time to switch my company over.  But there's nothing, no news.  The communications dept at my employer says they haven't heard anything.  If landlines are phased out it will happen much later than 20/20. 

 

My opinion is that there will be downsizing but not really a phase out.   My last landline installation was delayed two weeks simply because they did not have enough lines on the pole in my alley going to the central office.  That's how it works in 3rd world countries.  Now, if the wildfires take out the infrastructure and facilities, then there will probably be a transition to fiber which of course needs power at the premises to operate.  I don't see them rebuilding or expanding copper infrastructure, just maintaining it.

Tutor

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5 Messages

2 y ago

Thank you, that was helpful information.  Last winter my landline went down and the service technician told me there are many of us still on landlines in my neighborhood.  I thought that was encouraging.

Teacher

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12 Messages

2 y ago

Spoom2  It is hard to pin down where exactly the situation is today.  Most of what I found related to Illinois passing legislation and overriding the governor's veto to allow at&t to phase out...Chicago Tribune was the source of the 20 states have passed legislation to allow, but California remains the hold out. ("According to the Chicago Tribune, state legislatures in 20 of those 21 states have given AT&T the OK to end landline service in their states so the telecommunications company can focus and invest more in wireless or internet-based phone networks. California is now the only holdout among states where AT&T is the legacy phone carrier.")

https://www.moneytalksnews.com/landline-phone-disappearing-in-these-20-states/

 

Verizon recently sought permission to phase out its remaining copper in some more states.

https://potsandpansbyccg.com/2019/04/08/verizon-to-retire-copper/

 

There was legislation is Calif three years ago, that would have required them to give 3 months notice etc, but it seems to have quietly died.  https://www.govtech.com/state/Will-California-Phase-Out-Landline-Telephone-Service.html

 

Interestingly, att has this on its website...what to do if you get a letter saying your copper is phased out.  I have no idea who gets the notice, but if you note on the top, it is content for CA...maybe it is just preparing for future.

https://www.att.com/esupport/article.html#!/local-long-distance/KM1096816

 

I do think that one poster above is correct that the idea is first to get as many people as possible to drop landlines by raising prices, offering bundle services in ways to discourage landlines, slowing down repairs (took four days to get mine repaired recently) etc.  I know that I am clinging to mine as long as I can.

spoom2

ACE - Master

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12.8K Messages

2 y ago

@breezeuser  My statement in post 2 was I haven't seen anything new since 2017.  I'm going to just point out some brief things on your 4 links, I'm not arguing the point that the phone companies want to dump copper plant, just that they've hit roadblocks and some have changed course as to how to replace copper.  The question remains as to how to serve those who currently have no alternative to copper.

 

Your first link was written in 2017, which was my point. 

 

Second link was about Verizon, which in March of 2018 reached agreement to fix much of it copper infrastructure in the northeast due to numerous complaints.

 

Link 3 on California was written in 2016

 

Your AT&T link has no date so I don't know when it was written. 

 

AT&T is relying on fixed wireless to address the rural areas, but it's been buggy and you have to have a clear line of site to a tower, which doesn't work in wooded areas.  Verizon claims it will run fiber to rural areas, but hasn't done any of that yet and there's a lot of questions from investors as to the feasibility of such an investment if all some want is a phone. 

 

I'm sure copper will go away, it's the when part that I can't find any supporting information on. 

dm2850

Teacher

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47 Messages

2 y ago

I wonder how AT&T is marketing "Fixed Wireless" in those rural areas or if they have even begun.  Several years ago landline phase out was all over the internet and seemed imminent.  I panicked and got fixed wireless from Verizon called "Home Phone Connect" in case my AT&T landline was turned off.  It was a wonderful surprise and worked well with nearly perfect sound quality for about 2 years.  Then in the Fall of 2016 I started missing a lot of incoming calls.  The phones connected to the device did not ring.  I was able to make calls but incoming calls were intermittent.

 

After about a month of calling Verizon back and forth and replacing several devices I finally found out that it was a software glitch in Verizon cell towers that was causing the device to go dormant if an incoming call was not received for an extended period of time, sending the calls to voicemail.  Verizon was in no hurry to identify or fix the problem.  It took them several months to fix the issue that affected numerous customers.  They blamed the manufacturer of the device.  Several months without phone service is insane.

 

I ported my number to AT&T Wireless Home Phone and have had it for 3 years.  The sound quality is even better than on Verizon.  The price was the same as Verizon, $20/mo.  The only difference was that Verizon displayed both the name and number on caller ID and AT&T only displays the number.  I liked the product so much that I told other people about it.  Recently however, I found out that AT&T no longer offers AT&T Wireless Home Phone as a stand alone, you have to purchase a wireless data plan in order to get the phone.  That winds up being at least $40/mo for the data and $20/mo for the phone for a total of $60/mo plus tax.  Luckily I am grandfathered in but that's pretty pricey if you don't need wireless data.

 

So if AT&T or Verizon deploy fixed wireless as a substitute for landline service they have to have an obligation to serve, meaning that they will fix your service within 72 hours like they did for landlines.  And there has to be price controls so that you can get basic service without being forced to bundle or pay high rates.  I miss the name on the caller ID so I am contemplating switching back to Verizon.  My device is unlocked so I can also insert a T-Mobile SIM card as well.  

 

I continue to have a regular landline but I have reduced it to basic service which is $26/mo.  I used the Wireless Home Phone as my main number now.  

spoom2

ACE - Master

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12.8K Messages

2 y ago

Fixed wireless is different than the wireless home phones offered.  Fixed wireless has to have line of site, where the cell service used on the home phones doesn't.  The wireless data uses the 4LTE network, just like your cell phone, fixed is high speed dedicated internet service and has to be "aimed" much like satellite service, that's why the line of site is required.  I have a Verizon wireless home phone and have been happy with it however Verizon no longer offers wireless data.  I'm sure all this is going to change several times before anything major happens.  On the wireless home phones a quality phone makes a big difference, otherwise the voice quality can be as bad as most cell phones. 

Teacher

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12 Messages

2 y ago

I think I may have found out something about the gap in time from all the 2017 media coverage and lack of information on what status is today.  In 2017, FCC was playing with some new rules to speed up the process to allow carriers to drop copper.  Not sure when the comment period ended but communication workers union filed suit to block the new regs and the Ninth Circuit court of appeals heard oral arguments on the case on August 27, 2019...not a lot of coverage re oral argument that I can access (behind legal site paywalls so can not read full narratives) and I am not sure it is worth spending more time trying to track all of this down re when it may happen in California (which is what the first poster was talking about) ... who knows when, but it is coming at our old beloved copper wires.  I suspect if court green lights the FCC rules, more media coverage and more movement.

Teacher

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12 Messages

2 y ago

Here is a cite to one reference to august 29, 2019 argument in case...https://www.law360.com/articles/1192917/9th-circ-probes-fcc-reversal-in-copper-retirement-suit

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