Study Documents Declining Quality of Phone Service in CA.

A CPUC study has concluded that phone service in California is deteriorating.  Key findings include:

  • Deteriorating service quality. The quality of AT&T and Frontier voice services has steadily declined over the 8-year period from 2010-2017…., with the number of outages increasing and the service restoration times getting longer.
  • Persistent disinvestment. Over the 2010-2017 period covered by this study, both AT&T California and Frontier California (both before and after its 2016 acquisition from Verizon) made capital additions to their respective local exchange service networks that were less than their cumulative depreciation accruals… in effect, disinvesting in infrastructure overall, and most pronounced in the more rural and low-income service areas.
  • Failure to adapt network infrastructure to withstand varying weather and environmental conditions. This study provides evidence of a strong relationship between significant adverse weather conditions and an increase in the number of service outages.  The occurrence of extreme weather events in California certainly can be anticipated to a certain degree and incorporated into the companies’ engineering, design and construction, and maintenance practices is that these networks can withstand all types of inclement weather and provide safe and reliable service to customers.
  • Investment focus on higher income communities. There is an inverse relationship between household income and wire center service quality performance. AT&T wire centers that have been upgraded with fiber optic facilities and other broadband-related investments disproportionately serve higher income communities. Consequently, the AT&T wire centers serving areas with the lowest household incomes tend to exhibit the highest trouble report rates, the longest out-of-service durations, and the lowest percentages of outages cleared within 24 hours.