Stop Smart Meters! Opposes AB 2395- would destroy landlines without offering any benefits

From Save Landlines:

From: Joshua Hart <joshuahart@baymoon.com>

Subject: Stop Smart Meters! Opposes AB 2395- would destroy landlines without offering any benefits

Date: May 4, 2016 at 12:43:49 PM PDT

To: Jennifer.galehouse@asm.ca.gov

Dear Ms. Galehouse,

AB2395 is a bill that would allow AT&T to eliminate our essential copper landline network and along with it thousands of solid, good-paying union jobs, while reducing consumer choices, cutting off people who can only use wired communications systems (including seniors, rural residents and those with electro-sensitivity) and destroying an essential wired back-up communication system, while only offering vague references to alleged benefits.

Cell phone systems are highly dependent on the electric grid which is prone to outages, particularly during natural or manmade disasters.  See the following piece on NPR about the lack of reliability of wireless telecommunications during Hurricane Sandy.  Without even the option of landlines, which tend to continue to operate even when the electrical grid goes out, people will be left stranded and disconnected. It will take longer to recover from a disaster such as an earthquake, and the economy will suffer as a result.

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/04/29/179243218/after-sandy-questions-l inger-over-cellphone-reliability

I run an organization that depends on reliable, good quality, wired communication to function.  According to direct instructions from my physician, I am not to use any wireless devices.  However, if this bill passes AT&T will be permitted to cut all wired service to my house, while only providing a wireless voice service that is not possible for me (or millions of others with the same diagnosis) to use.

Our organization pays income and sales taxes to the state and federal governments.  If we are unable to safely and reliably communicate in order to run our business, this will impact the state’s coffers, as well as harm the local economy. Neither VOIP nor wireless service, nor any other alternative besides landlines are adequate in our location.

In addition, the World Health Organization has declared cell phone radiation a Class 2B possible carcinogen based on epidemiological brain tumor studies in Sweden. Those who wish to reduce the cancer risk that their family faces will be increasingly unable to do so if AT&T gets its way.

This bill will encourage, and in some cases, require, the use of wireless technology for basic voice services. AT&T now requires the use of a “wireless gateway� to be installed for U-Verse, its current VOIP offerings. For those unable to use cell phones, or other such wireless technology, this is unacceptable. AB2395 could allow AT&T to proceed with a de facto disconnect of millions of people throughout the state.

The “customer demandâ€� that AT&T cites for alternatives to landlines is more a result of corporate coercion.  AT&T has been refusing to provide new landline service to those who request it, a violation of CPUC regulations, and something we’ve heard repeatedly from residents around the state in recent months.

What are the costs to the state’s emergency response/ medical system as a result of losing the pinpoint accurate location info from landlines and substituting it with the less-than-pinpoint-accurate location information on wireless 911 emergency calls? What are the costs to our medical system of billions more cell phone exposure hours, and potentially millions of new brain tumor cases over the coming decades?

AB2395 does not promise any specific benefits to Californians and instead would allow AT&T and other telephone network operators to gut our reliable backup landline network and escape their historical mandate to provide safe, reliable, affordable telecommunications to Californians. The potential economic damage resulting from the severing of this key, high quality, communications infrastructure is significant.

Allowing AT&T to cut off the state’s landline network without a specific plan in place, will also place a disproportionate burden on those who are imprisoned and need to make collect calls to reach their loved ones and lawyers, a service not currently provided through VOIP services, with no word from AT&T how this system will be replaced.

We should learn from the destruction of our extensive streetcar networks in the 20th century at the hands of corporate forces pushing cars and buses, which were considered more technologically “advanced.â€� Now, we are paying billions to replace those light rail systems that were destroyed in the 30’s and 40’s but in hindsight should have been maintained.  How much will it cost to replace the copper landline network and infrastructure in the future when people get sick of poor quality, lack of reliability, and health risks from wireless technology? The destruction of the landline network is not a change that is being demanded by the people of California, who enjoy having the option of a landline for secure communication. This bill is purely about boosting AT&T’s profits by reducing consumer choices, harming rural areas of the state, and giving regulated corporations a free pass to destroy valuable public infrastructure.

Further privatizing and deregulating essential public services will leave us not with advanced technologies but with systems that are less safe, less reliable, and less affordable. If AT&T succeeds in pushing this damaging bill through, it is the public who will lose while AT&T reaps ever greater profits.

The CPUC- in theory at least- is meant to regulate large utilities like AT&T for the public good. This bill would make it a crime for the CPUC to maintain secure, reliable, quality connectivity for Californians.

Please list us as opposing this legislation and recommend against its passage in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, for all the above reasons.  I’d be happy to discuss any of these issues further.

Thank you,

Josh Hart

 
Josh Hart MSc

Director, Stop Smart Meters! http://StopSmartMeters.org PO Box 682 Portola, CA 96122

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