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The landline lovers have spoken: Cellphones aren’t reliable enough in an emergency

‘There are plenty of us who depend on a reliable means of communication.’

An old telephone lies amidst rubble and debris.
Francois Lochon/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

In response to our recent story, AT&T wants to drop landline service. Holdouts are fighting back, The San Francisco Standard is publishing a selection of readers’ comments with their permission. The responses have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Too important to abandon

I got a bill insert saying AT&T wants to end landline service to my ZIP code 94127 as well as "a large portion of our service territory in California."

I use a landline for DSL internet service and for an ADT monitored burglar alarm system and when the power goes out in an earthquake or other long blackout. This is the first I heard of AT&T's efforts to avoid its carrier of last resort obligation in California.

Even though I, like most people, have a cellphone, it can't do everything. This proposed abandonment affects many people and businesses.

—Richard Brandi

Whippersnappers need to think it through

I, too, have a landline that was installed in my new home in July 1972 when I moved to the area that is being affected. My old school desktop computer, as well as my security from ADT, is connected with that landline. If it is such a small percentage of landlines in use, then their deep pockets can afford to put aside whatever to accommodate the elderly who depend on these rotary or push-button phones as a means for the outside world. These young whippersnappers who are running AT&T should look to their grandparents or great-grandparents and think if they were alive or still are alive what hardship they would go through.

—Alfred Vaquilar

False sense of security

Some landline users have the false perception this service is more reliable during emergencies like an earthquake—local phone service either after Loma Prieta, for example. That was using switching services that in the last 10 years have been ripped out at AT&T central business offices and replaced with VoIP, voice over internet protocol. So even if the landline looks like a landline at someone’s house, it’s actually less reliable in an emergency than cellular since most cell towers have backup batteries.

—Stew McKenzie

What about earthquakes?

We, too, have had reservations about AT&T cutting their landlines. We actually had an AT&T landline but were told by AT&T that they would no longer maintain our landline, which had become so bad we couldn’t hear on it. In addition, we were told that the cost to have such a line was going up to an astronomical price, so we begrudgingly switched. We didn’t want to for all those instances mentioned in your article. One, however, that wasn’t mentioned, was the threat of an earthquake. Living in San Francisco through the 1989 earthquake made us realize how important landlines are.

—Natalie Simotas

Reliable service

I can’t imagine relying on a cellphone and praying AT&T doesn’t go through with this plan. There are plenty of us who depend on a reliable means of communication.

—Michael Ashe

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