AT&T's proposal to phase out landline service in California draws both opposition and support

Leticia Juarez Image
Wednesday, March 20, 2024
AT&T's plan to phase out landline services in draws support, criticism
A landline phone may be a relic of our days before cellphones, but for thousands of AT&T customers they are still a daily part of life.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KABC) -- A landline phone may be a relic of our days before cellphones, but for thousands of AT&T customers they are still a daily part of life.

"There is no reason in the world that AT&T cannot afford to main the most reliable communications systems we have which are landline," said Vic Dominic a senior citizen with a home landline.

AT&T has requested the California Public Utilities Commission remove its designation as the Carrier of Last Resort, or COLR. The service requires the phone carrier to provide a landline connection to any customers in its service area. But the telecommunication company want to move away from copper phone lines to fiber and wireless-based network.

AT&T says fewer than 5% of households are served by cooper based landline phones. Even so, local leaders like West Hollywood Mayor John Erickson is fighting for his constituents to keep their landline.

"A landline which is something we rely on should there be a natural disaster an earthquake or something else we utilize landline phones," said Erickson.

The request to withdraw AT&T's COLR covers portions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

AT&T is experiencing a nationwide outage of its phone and internet services, causing people to have trouble with their cell phones.

During a virtual hearing held by the California Public Utilities Commission residents were able to weigh in on the matter.

"For every dollar AT&T has to invest in this old network, that is one dollar less they can invest in the latest and greatest technology that all Californian's deserve and we want," said Jerry Deal of Ventura County.

But others including customers and organizations such AARP, a senior citizens group which represents 3.2 million Californians opposed the withdraw of AT&T's landline services.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, AT&T said, "We are not cancelling landline service in California, and none of our California customers will lose access to voice service or 911 service. For customers who do not have alternative options available yet, we will continue to provide their existing voice service as long as is needed. No customer will be disconnected, and we're working with the remaining consumers who use traditional landline service to upgrade to newer technologies."

The application is just the first step in a multi-year process to phase out copper-based phone services.

A decision on AT&T's request is not expected until the fall.