My mother relies on her landline to communicate. She has a cell phone, but she has trouble using it, and often misplaces it. She needs a phone that always works and that she’s comfortable using; it’s why she’s kept her landline, even as prices have gone up over the past 10 years.
That’s why I was skeptical when her landline provider “upgraded” her service to “digital home phone service”—a landline alternative that tied her phone to her internet rather than old-fashioned copper wire.
It brought her bill down significantly, but it came with a cost. The call quality is terrible, and since her internet is spotty, her phone often doesn’t work at all.
When we couldn’t get her old service back, I discovered that last August, the FCC deregulated the telecom industry, and authorized phone companies to shut down traditional landlines nationwide and switch users to internet-based services.
Landlines are lifelines for 2.5 million seniors aged 55 and over in California. Having to rely on expensive landline alternatives that have poor call quality, stop working during power outages, puts seniors like her at risk.
I understand that landlines may not be “profitible” for the phone company to provide anymore. But this is why our government exists—we regulate essential industries like telecommunications because not doing so leaves our most vulnerable people in the dust.
If the FCC won’t look out for our seniors, the Californian government should step up. I implore our local leaders to advocate for the most vulnerable members of our community, and fight to keep true landline phone service alive.