Don’t Let AT&T Take Over Your Neighborhood or Take Away Your Choice
AT&T spends millions to lobby legislators in Sacramento and millions more on political donations in order to gain support for its greedy anti-consumer schemes. The latest, most outrageous example is SB 649, one of the worst examples of corporate lawmaking in recent memory.
Senate Bill 649 would give AT&T carte blanch to install “Wireless Telecommunications Facilities” anywhere it pleases, including right outside your front door. In fact, AT&T wants the legislature to grant it unfettered access to streets, roads and public land that local officials now oversee.
It’s no wonder public officials and local governments are up in arms about SB 649.
It undermines the ability of local jurisdictions to enforce permitting requirements and charge legitimate fees for placement of wireless equipment on public property and rights-of-way. What’s worse, AT&T and other wireless companies would have free reign to place their equipment on facilities that are structurally deficient or historically valuable with no public oversight.
SB 649 would cost local jurisdictions millions of dollars that they properly collect for allowing these corporate behemoths to use public property. It could also cost many consumers their choice of home phone service at well.
It is well documented that AT&T and Verizon have a nationwide strategy of failing to adequately maintain their wireline networks and forcing customers to “migrate” to wireless services even in areas where wireless coverage is spotty and unreliable. In some cases, regulators and workers have been able to push back and defend vulnerable consumers.
According to the League of California Cities, “It’s clear from the direction of this bill, that the intent is not about 5G wireless deployment, but rather local deregulation of the entire telecommunications industry”
AT&T wants to ignore existing regulations that require wireless to be of comparable quality and reliability before it can abandon landlines. Right now there’s no question that landlines provide superior service in an emergency, since 911 operators can immediately track a landline caller’s location. Many of the more remote areas of the state don’t have reliable wireless access.
Many customers, both rural and uban, prefer copper-based landlines because they continue to function during a lengthy power outage. Or because the call quality is better.
The fact is, AT&T and Verizon built their duopoly of high profits and market domination on the backs of customers who paid every month for the care and upkeep of the phone system. Those who want to continue that service, some of whom have been paying into it for decades, should have the choice. Especially when the digital and wireless options AT&T wants to present instead come with a much heftier price tag for consumers and public safety.