By Miriam Raftery
April 12, 2016 (Sacramento) – Tomorrow, April 13th at 1 p.m., the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce will hear AB 2395, a measure that aims to eliminate hard-wired land line phones in California communities where cabled fiber optic connections are not available or are too expensive to install, such as rural, mountain and desert regions. Customers would have no choice but to switch to wireless cell phone service, if the measure being pushed by AT&T is enacted.
In emergencies, 911 callers’ locations cannot easily be verified, unlike calls from land line which can be pinpointed instantly. In case of fire, medical emergency, or a serious crime in progress, prompt 911 responses are critical. Moreover, during power outages, cell phones run out once batteries are dead and there is no way to recharge batteries in an outage, whereas old-fashioned land lines (though not cable phones) continue to work even when the electricity is off.
"In addition, some of us living near the U.S./Mexico border do not have cell service due to rugged terrain and agreements with Mexico not to have cell towers too close to the border,” says Donna Tisdale, chair of the Boulevard Community Planning Group. So eliminating land lines would leave border residents in the most remote areas of San Diego County with no phone service at all.
Some have also voiced objections over potential health risks from cell phones and wireless, including people diagnosed with sensitivities to electromagnetic radiation. In 2011, the World Health Organization classified radiation from cell phones and wireless devices as a possible carcinogen, while some studies have shown DNA damage and other health issues.
AT&T is initiating similar pilot projects in other states to disconnect what it terms “legacy” systems, or land lines, to save money.
California residents concerned about losing land lines are urged to immediately call the Utilities and Commerce Committee members here: http://autl.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff as well as your own Assembly representative. You can find your Assembly representative and their contact information here: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/0809soundoff