Bay Area/ San Jose/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on May 12, 2024
California Judge Rejects AT&T Plan to End Landline Service in San Mateo CountySource: Google Street View

AT&T's bid to ditch its duty to provide landline telephone service to San Mateo County residents got a big thumbs down from a California Public Utilities Commission judge on Friday. The proposal to let AT&T off the hook has been termed "dangerous," with concerns it could leave folks high and dry during emergencies like wildfires.

San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller, spearheading the charge against AT&T's move, breathed a sigh of relief at the judge's decision. "I am pleased that the California Public Utilities Commission’s Administrative Law Judge rejected AT&T’s dangerous application to be relieved of its obligation to provide basic network telephone service to any customer requesting it because there is no other company willing to provide that service to everyone," he said, according to a statement. The County ain't backing down, vowing to keep fighting for residents to have the choice to stick with their landlines when cell service is a no-go.

Getting in on the commendations, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo chimed in, applauding the CPUC's decision and stressing the importance of these services, especially for citizens in remote or cash-strapped situations. "Maintaining carrier of last resort status ensures every Californian has access to reliable and affordable communications no matter where they live," Eshoo said via the San Mateo County news report. "This decision is a victory for them."

Had AT&T gotten their way, access to vital 911 and telephone relay services, essential for people with speech or hearing difficulties, could've been in jeopardy. AT&T's proposal to yank landline service could have hit nearly all of San Mateo County, a move now tentatively stalled by the law judge’s proposed decision. The move underscored AT&T's failure to prove the availability of any alternative providers. This conclusion is up for review at the CPUC's June 20 meeting, where they'll decide whether to make the rejection official.

There's still a chance for the public to weigh in on the issue with the CPUC, having already received a hefty load of 5,000 comments and drawing crowds north of 5,800 to virtual forums statewide. Those interested in voicing their opinion can do so before the commission's final verdict.