Author Topic: Cali: AT&T loses key ruling in attempt to escape Carrier-of-Last-Resort obligatn  (Read 242 times)


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For a practical example:  A larger town near me upgraded the town telephone system awhile back.  Most of the new telephone lines were VoIP, but wisely, they purposely kept one half the town govt lines as old time self powered copper just to be on the safe side.  Sure enough, the town has been hit by tornadoes, floods and other destructive weather events since than and the old copper lines kept working while the VoIP lines went down.

VoIP has been fine for normal day to day business, but in natural disaster and when you lose power, it sucks.


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Meanwhile, our landline service is degrading rapidly (crackles, dropouts, etc). It's like a bad cell connection a lot of days and neighbors report the same thing, so it's at a system level. We get the feeling that AT&T is planning to degrade the service to the point that even people who have no other reliable option will voluntarily drop off so they have even fewer subscribers the next time they bring this up.

For the cheapest, most basic service available, we are at $63/month (local plus 5000 minutes of long distance with no features like caller ID or anything like that). A similarly priced cell plan is a much better value.

The report, based on data through the second half of 2022, estimates 72.6% of adults and 81.9% of children live in homes with only wireless phone services.

Sooner or later, maintaining all that copper becomes untenable.

Meanwhile, Verizon sent out their propaganda talking about how they ares hardening their cell system against disasters with more generator and battery capacity.

At the same time, the cellular telcos are rolling out direct phone-satellite connectivity. There may or may not be enough capacity during a disaster, but that at least will provide service in a power outage as long as you can charge your cell phone (i.e. you don't have to keep a router and a Starlink dish running, which can be 100W for Starlink alone if it's snowing, for example). If this rolls out broadly and successfully, that reduces the case for a landline even more. Especially now that even Bluetooth can connect to satellites -

So the cell system is getting more robust and the landline system more and more fragile. At a certain point, even in rural areas where land-based cell coverage sucks, people will abandon POTS lines due to the cost and decreasing reliability.

All that is just a long-winded way of saying that I expect AT&T will raise this issue every few years until they get what they want.

I think the hard part is the transition phase. Nobody has a clear story, but one of the AT&T techs and a high-voltage electrician for NPS have told me that they don't have enough space and enough power to add to the current service equipment, so they can't add a cell tower and then remove the POTS system. They would need to do it in the other order.

I'm sure there are ways around that in the short term, but they are pricey (temp structure plus generator). People don't realize how much this takes. One cell tower with 3-4 antennas operates here off the grid on a propane generator. It takes roughly 1,000 gallons of propane every four weeks to keep it running. This is 9 miles from the nearest plowed parking lot, which means that in winter they deliver two 500-gallon tanks every 4 weeks by snowcat (so assuming the tanks are not empty after four weeks, let's say it's 200 gallons per week).

Anyway, that's 10,000 gallons of propane per year for that tower, not counting all the fuel that goes into transporting those tanks, especially in the winter.

The climate impact of that one cell tower is pretty large.