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Bay Area residents raise concerns as AT&T seeks to end landline service

Thousands of people have been expressing outrage to the California Public Utilities Commission over AT&T’s proposal to take away landline phones permanently.

Currently, the telecom giant is required by state law to provide voice communications to all who want it in their service area.

But AT&T is asking the CPUC for approval to withdraw landline phones, calling the system a “historical curiosity that’s no longer necessary.”

Two people who talked with NBC Bay Area Wednesday said they disagree.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Not everybody has a personal cellphone,” said San Jose resident Litzy Hernandez.

“I don’t think they should get rid of landlines. I think they are necessary, especially in disaster times when it rains and cell phones go down,” said Denene Pinnix of San Jose.

Assemblymember Gail Pellerin, who represents much of the South Bay and Santa Cruz Mountains, recently wrote the CPUC, pointing out the CZU Fire in 2020 and other disasters as examples of how indispensable landlines are.

She told NBC Bay Area Wednesday that it doesn’t necessarily take a huge disaster to see why.

“In a power outage, they don’t have access to their cell phones. They don’t have access to the internet,” she said. “And it’s critically important if they are making a call out for emergencies or call their family to let them know they’re safe or call work to let them know they can’t come in.”

Consumer Watchdog founder Harvey Rosenfield said it’s not hard to see why many consumer groups don’t like the proposal.

“I use my cell phone for everything. I’m on my cell phone right now. But at the end of the day, the ability to have a landline, it should be protected and preserved, even though these corporations don’t want to provide it anymore,” he said.

In a statement, AT&T said demand has declined to only 7% and that many of those users do have options they could seek out. They added it will try to provide service until those customers find an alternative.

Some people NBC Bay Area talked to Wednesday said AT&T is right.

“I think it’s OK. I don’t use a landline. I used have it. I canceled it. Don’t use it anymore because of my cell phone,” said Peter Xiong of San Jose.

Pellerin said consumers should send AT&T letters and messages on their situation and attend the public hearings if they can. But that won’t be easy for many Bay Area residents as the next one will take place in Ukiah on Feb. 22.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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