Landlines may be considered by some to be old fashioned, expensive and unnecessary in this day and age of wireless technology with cell towers proliferating on every corner, however, they are considered by many to be critical infrastructure. AT&T has applied to remove its obligation to provide landline service, as they move to wireless telecommunications, and to discontinue its federal Lifeline program to subsidize telecommunications support for low-income and rurally-located individuals in California,

 Wireless telecommunication services satisfy the public’s demand for constant connection, business needs for wireless data transfer and cities interconnected facility operations for energy, water and traffic, not to mention law enforcement security measures by surveillance, via The Cloud. Wireless seems dominant and inviolate. In fact, it frequently fails in natural disasters, is quite vulnerable to cyberattacks, is woefully insecure and also uses much more energy than landlines, the preferred choice for safe, secure and emergency communications.

“How appropriate that I come to this hearing today to testify for the maintenance of landlines in northern California. Today San Francisco Fire Department advises people to use landline phones to call 911 as the AT&T cell system is not working.” Feb 6, 2024 CPUC Hearing Clovis, CA

In California where AT&T has applied to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)  to remove its obligation to continue to maintain landlines, outrage has resulted from the public and government representatives, who see landlines as invaluable in emergencies, for those in rural areas without cell towers, as well as a lifeline for older folks and those with electrosensitivity who cannot use wireless devices.  The idea of genuine national security, as well as individual security and privacy, achieved by keeping a cybersafe backup landline system is also highlighted below. In addition, AT&T fiberoptic, needs power to operate as well, and if the power goes out so does fiber. An AT&T forum highlights how people learned the hard way, during a power outage, that fiberoptic customers need to supply their own battery backup if they wish to have it.

The Federal Communications Commission “Required Disclosures for Customers” clearly states that, “Your home telephone service may not work during power outages if it is not line-powered (not a copper line).  Telephone companies that provide service that is not line-powered must disclose the need for backup power to each new subscriber at the point of sale and to all subscribers annually.” Many people have also reported service problems when they switched to AT&T fiberoptic.

Keep Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)

Residents and lawmakers alike have asked that the CPUC have AT&T continue its “Carrier of Last Resort” (COLR) obligations to provide basic telephone service. There are many well-reasoned arguments for not only keeping landlines but also upgrading these. Traditional copper lines called Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) are not an outdated technology or a “historical curiosity” as AT&T has stated, it is a sophisticated system to provide universal access to telephone service in a fair and equitable manner. It is also safer and future proof. POTS has provided that basic service for decades until wireless technologies were developed.

AT&T Argues for Discontinuing Service

AT& T spokesman stated in a Notice of Ex Parte Communication, “that timely resolution of the COLR proceeding is critical to achieving key economic, social, and environmental goals that AT&T California shares with the state to keep pace with the demands of a growing economy, an equitable society, and environmentally sound business objectives… will hasten completion of AT&T California’s transition from its narrowband copper network to its futureproof fiber and wireless broadband network … Migrating customers off of copper is necessary for NG911 access to improve public safety… [and] shutting down AT&T California’s copper network will reduce carbon emissions and lighten the load on California’s electricity grid.

Lawmakers Speak Out

Local California Representatives

Local counties spoke out. Humboldt County Board of Supervisors strongly voiced their opposition to this proposal.  Senator Mike McGuire, [https://sd02.senate.ca.gov] who represents residents living in the upper third of the California Coastline agreed, stating in an article [https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2024/feb/8/t-applies-end-landline-service/] , “Every resident in this state must have access to reliable phone service, no matter where you live. We’re going to fight this cockamamie proposal on behalf of the 600,000 folks who would be hung up on by AT&T.” Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services (OES) program manager Ryan Derby noted in the same Lost Coast Outpost article, “This proposal would require modern communications networks to be installed in areas that currently don’t have coverage, contributing to an increased strain on our already vulnerable energy grid, and posing scenarios where residents could lose access to 9-1-1 services and emergency alerts, particularly when power outages or other system disruptions occur.” Kate Witthaus, CEO of the Northern California Community Blood Bank noted, “We know from direct experience that our internet and cellular-based phone services can and do fail. Imagine a hospital needing an urgent blood delivery and being unable to reach us.”

Marin County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the CPUC as well on Feb 16, 2024 opposing AT&T’s request.  The letter states, “AT&T’s application requests COLR relief in providing landline service for over 99% of its service territory where it determines an alternative voice provider exists (VoIP, wireless, etc.) and does not request a replacement COLR. Since the definition of “alternative voice provider exists” is based on demonstration that a carrier’s footprint covers only 50% of the census block, residents in the remaining 50% are in danger of having no phone service. Additionally, AT&T’s application describes the COLR requirement as an “underutilized landline telephone network,” however, in households with limited cell phone coverage, landlines are far from underutilized. Landlines provide essential communications, especially in emergencies, to households without cell coverage and/or other connectivity options.”

Inyo County weighed in stating, “Inyo County strongly opposes the application because it could have detrimental impacts on some of Inyo’s more isolated communities – including the disabled, elderly, and economically disadvantaged residents that call those areas home and currently rely almost exclusively on landline telecommunications service.”

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on March 12, 2024  “directed the County Attorney’s Office to draft a resolution opposing AT&T’s application to terminate its status as the carrier of last resort in California” according to news reports

The San Mateo Board of Supervisors asked AT& T officials to testify in person how this will impact the thousands of customers who rely on AT& T for landline service. The San Mateo County Executive Office noted, “The CPUC website appears to show that landline AT&T service in all of San Mateo County would be eliminated, save for areas near Coyote Point Recreation Area and parts of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Watershed.”

California State Representatives

State representative Adam Schiff (CA 30) wrote to the CPUC on Feb 14, 2024 with concerns about AT&T’s application to remove their obligation to provide landline service. Schiff stated, “In addition to concerns about how this may impact elderly residents, I am also especially concerned with the potential public safety issues which could arise if the CPUC approves AT&T’s proposal. Californians in rural and urban areas often face natural disasters, including earthquakes, flooding, and fires. In these times of emergencies, our landlines become the most dependable form of communication. While wireless connection is unreliable and cell phones can run out of battery, copper landlines have stronger receptions during power outages…”

A California Democratic Delegation a week later sent a letter to the CPUC  signed by 13 representatives, including Anna Eshoo (CA 16), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Ro Khanna (CA 17), Jared Huffman (CA 02 ), Barbara Lee (CA 12) and Mike Thompson (CA-04). The letter notes, “CPUC’s stated mission is to ensure Californians have safe, reliable utility services. We do not believe that removing access to landlines is compatible with this mission. When catastrophic earthquakes, destructive fires, cataclysmic landslides, or ravaging floods happen residents are left without the electricity or working cellular towers necessary for cellular phone usage for days and weeks at a time. These disasters are not figurative or future possibilities. They happen regularly in this area of the country.”

Physicians for Safe Technology Advocates for Saving Landlines

Physicians for Safe Technology wrote a detailed letter to the CPUC highlighting the main issues. They point out, “Landlines remain the most robust, reliable and affordable system for communication in this country. Landlines are an essential safety net…All cities should keep landlines as a backup for emergency communication, considering power outages, as well as increasing issues with wireless privacy and cybersecurity threats.  The CPUC has a fundamental duty to provide safe and reliable utility service embodied in PU Code § 451. AT&T is obligated to provide this service. Landlines remain essential for emergency communication, especially in rural, mountainous or sparsely populated areas.” The letter goes on to state,

  • Many older people in California still use a landline to connect with an affordable medical alert system for personal emergency response. [Lifeline]
  • Landlines are directly routed to a central office where the exact location of the caller is known to first responders when 911 is called. This is in contrast to cell phones which triangulate signals providing only an approximate location. [Reverse 9-1-1 calls are used by police and fire to communicate to residents in danger during emergency situations.]
  • Landlines are the last to go down in fires and are functioning if the power goes out due a complex battery backup system, thus are critical in this increasing fire prone state.
  • Many older people find that stable fixed wired landlines are easier to use to communicate with family and friends, finding cell phones too cumbersome, confusing and requiring more expensive Wi Fi systems and apps.
  • Those with a medical illness called electrosensitivity cannot use wireless devices, such as cell phones, cordless DECT phones or a Wi Fi system. They can use only copper landlines as these have no electromagnetic radiation.
  • The voice quality greatly surpasses that of VOIP or even cell phones, where bad weather or buildings interfere with signals.
  • Landlines are cheaper as they have only one function, telephone calls, although DSL still works to provide faxing and slower but reliable internet.
  • Landlines should be part of a climate change emergency preparedness mitigation plan
  • The CPUC can regulate landlines, which have a uniform set of minimum service quality standards and regulations that do not apply to newer wireless carrier services such as VoIP, thus allowing better access and affordability of this critical resource for public safety.
  • Cell towers are electrical structures and can have faulty electrical or mechanical issues thus posing a fire risk [Chula Vista, Hanover, Seattle, Sacramento].  Firefighters are forced to wait until the power to the cell tower is shut off prior to using a hose, due to the risk of electrocution. This is the same for other electrical structural fires.
  • With Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) becoming more common in California to prevent the catastrophic fires we have seen during severe weather conditions with high fire risk landlines are an essential backup. Although in certain areas cell towers are required to have a 72 hour back up power, the electricity may be shut off for longer periods of time. [Fiberoptic requires individual battery backup as well]. [In addition-
  • The increasing risks of hacking and jamming of wireless and internet networks make landlines the most secure in an emergency]
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The Public Speaks Out at CPUC Hearings

The CPUC held 3 in-person hearings, one virtual meeting and also invited written public comments regarding AT&T’s request titled, Application of Pacific Bell Telephone Company d/b/a/ AT&T· California (U1001C) for Targeted Relief from its Carrier of Last Resort Obligation and Certain Associated Tariff Obligations.  About 3,000 written comments were submitted.  At the February 6, 2024 hearing in Clovis, California, CPUC Commissioner Reynolds noted in the introduction that the CPUC “Is the regulatory agency for all of California’s investor-owned public utilities spanning across energy, water and telecommunications industries.” He goes on to note that AT&T is the largest “Carrier of Last Resort” (COLR) in California and an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) and “receives financial assistance from the Federal Universal Service Fund to provide affordable telephone service to customers at all income levels.” AT&T requests to relinquish both obligations. There has been long term criticism of AT&T’s “continued rate increases and changes in state laws and regulations to accommodate claims of a fiber optic future…and let their networks deteriorate, and did not properly upgrade the County, much less the State, over the last 30 years.” (Kushnick 2022)  

Public Comments February 6, 2024

Hundreds of residents in Clovis spoke in person on February 6, 2024 to tell their stories (below) to Judge Thomas J Glegol.

2/6/24 CPUC Public Hearing Clovis, California, February 6, 2024. Reporters transcript. In Person.  Pages 1 – 110. Volume 1.

Assemblyman Woods- The first comment was made on behalf of Assembly Member Woods who observed, “In the last rounds of severe storms earlier this month 45,000 households in our assembly district were without power. Five days after the storms were over, there were still more than 5,000 households affected. For a large number of these people, when the power goes out, so does their phones.” … Comments sent to Assemblyman Woods included,  “Wildfires have disabled service for days at a time, and we need our landline.”  “The information for my pacemaker is transmitted to my doctor to my landline.” “Our smoke detector system is serviced through our landline connection” and   “I am old, and my landline is my only communication with the outside world.”

Senator McGuire- Senator Mike McGuire’s office also commented stating, “maintaining AT&T’s carrier of last resort status is so critical for those approximately 600,000 rural residents, businesses and seniors, who all depend on traditional hardwire lines across the state.

Dr. Jeffrey Kraut- A pediatrician and former emergency department physician at Mendocino Coast District Hospital Kraut noted, “Telephone service is an essential emergency service. As such, redundancy is important… There are times that cell service does not work and less frequently times that landline service does not work. Both are required. A commercial airline does not fly with just one engine.  Two, this emergency service is required by both providers of care and those receiving it… Three, there is now a portion of our population who cannot tolerate the electric and magnetic field radiation of cell phones. A landline is the only option for them.”

Other Brief Public CPUC Comments:

Residents tell their stories at the Feb 6, 2024 CPUC Meeting in Ukiah:

“I basically gave up my landline, because I couldn’t use it a good deal of the time. It would rain, and it wouldn’t work. When it wasn’t ·raining, I would get large amounts of static, and as bad as it is, for some people, that’s all they have access to.”

“I personally cannot use a cell phone for any length of time because of electro-sensitivity and so I do require a landline…”

“Please know that only the fully wired, high-quality connectivity of Plain Old Telephone Service is tolerable for the three to seven percent of the population that is very sensitive to wireless radiation…AT&T intends to discriminate against at least one million people, therefore, in the census blocks in which they seek to eliminate copper.”

“In my case, my alarm system runs on telephone service on the hardwire.”

“There is yet another reason to keep copper-landline phones, and that is the internet is vulnerable to cyber-attacks… Since the internet is the backbone of VoIP system, vulnerabilities of VoIP are network attacks, eavesdropping, and its use of Wi-Fi network, but on the other hand, copper-landline phones do not ·need to use internet connection.”

“I’ve been told by AT&T linemen that every time it rains, I will have problems because the rain gets into the wires because they refuse to replace anything. I’ve already been out for 12 days this year.”

“You know, what if we’re at home in the evening, and, you know, watching TV and all of a sudden you’re getting chest pains. How are you going to get ahold of an ambulance? How are you going to get to emergency, you know, if you don’t have a landline because that’s the only way to guarantee that you’re going to make it. And who’d be responsible if — if people die because of AT&T’s actions? Who would be responsible?”

“I’ve lived in the same home in Sonoma county 45 years at the intersection of two rural roads. AT&T has not maintained their landline system for as much as 20 years.  I’ve been watching out that window.”

“All of the AT&T marketing promotes wireless connectivity. AT&T did not and does not encourage landline as an option. AT&T has purposely avoided generating revenue to fund this system. AT&T has facilitated the atrophy of the landline system.”

 “AT&T receives an outsized amount of public funds. They must continue to serve the California public as the COLR. I know the Sonic executives have traveled multiple times to DC seeking telecommunications infrastructure expansion funding. They can’t get Congress’s attention. AT&T has the legislature’s attention effectively elbowing out smaller, vibrant, competitive fiber service providers away from government funding.”

“AT&T was awarded $259 million in telecom support contract from the USDA. They received FirstNet Authority investment of 6.3 billion with an additional two billion ongoing spend as it builds a wireless safety network. They then issued press releases to position themselves as safety providers. We’ve heard differently today.”

“In an emergency, which we had a very real one, in 2019, it was the Kincade Fire; and had we not had a wired copper landline POTS telephone system, we would not have been informed on the Kincade fire in enough time to evacuate, and that fire went right through our property.”

“I was an employee for AT&T for 30 years. We live in rock and roll [earthquake] country. In 1989, when cell towers went down, there was no cell service; and as PG&E was trying to put back the lines, they commented to us, “We are grateful that you kept the lines open. It gave us an opportunity to restore service a lot quicker and a lot more certain.”

“We are representing the Wiyot Tribe… We are asking you to reject AT&T’s request… We live in really — really rural area and electricity goes out all the time, because of storms, because of earthquakes, because of rolling blackouts, because of fire concerns and wind issues so, you know, that’s our only way to provide services to our tribal citizens; it’s our only way to operate in a — in an emergency. Also, a lot of our tribal citizens, particularly elderly folks, our — our elders and disabled folks, have the universal Lifeline.”

“Without that landline, we are dead in the water.· There is no excuse for the unbelievable destruction and waste of — if there was a war, that landline is the only thing that is going to be working.”

“Now, I actually am a Frontier Telephone customer, and I think we need to expand this topic to ·Frontier Telephone… I cannot even call Frontier to cancel my service.”

“AT&T is a publicly traded corporation: It’s only duty to its shareholders is maximize profit, not to provide a service to the people.”

 “We have been the AAA [towing] provider for the Mendocino Coast for almost 100 years, and I want to make you aware of a personal situation that happened with my business and AT&T. We have two landlines into our business, and for years, we were about $300 a month rate, $150 a landline; ·and then what started to happen was our monthly bills started coming, and it went from $300 to $400 to $500 to $600 when it got to $1,000 I said enough is enough, and I called AT&T…. and I asked them what the alternative was and they said, “Well, the alternative is cell phones,” and so, for $100 dollars a month, $50 a ·cell phone, we will provide you with smart phones, one for each of your landlines…

He assured me the phones would work, told me where the cell phone ·towers were. I said they’re nowhere close to me, and he said, “No, I think they’ll work,” so they pulled our ·landlines, sent us two smart phones, and for 7 months… half the time the phones would work as they were supposed to, but the ·ther 50 percent of the time, the call was either ·dropped or it went to voicemail… which meant my gal in the office had to jockey between two phones, constantly ·checking missed calls… we tow for the highway patrol, and we also tow for AAA,·and it’s essential that these landlines work to get ahold of us.” After speaking to Assemblyman Woods office his landlines were reinstated.  

My sketchy cell service doesn’t work when the power is out, and my sketchy internet doesn’t work when the power is out and the landline provides its own power, but during a power outage, maybe a year or little more ago, I discovered that my landline went out too. I called PG&E…. I insisted they send a tech out, and he told me, Yes, AT&T is no longer servicing the backup battery systems that they have. They’ve stopped doing that… They’re not telling the truth about that. They do have battery backup systems to ensure that there’s power on that line when the power goes out and they’re not taking care of it”.

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“In the last decade, 20 states have ended COLR and not a single landline has been disconnected. What it does mean is that AT&T no longer has to bear the cost of installation of new phone service. Expensive new installs would have to be paid for by the customer. ·This will impact Mendocino County. As many new installs are difficult and expensive. As many of our residents are poor, an expensive install means that some will go without a landline.”

“Just this last week, we had our fiber service turned on in Comptche.· We are proud to be the first community in Mendocino County that is fully fiber-to-the-home.”

“The one thing I haven’t heard mentioned all day long is that there are so many other services that are provided on this copper network that we’re talking about. Anybody who has U-verse internet that’s not fiber to your house is on the copper network. The same one that provides you your dial tone. There are also reporting circuits for fire, for water districts for flooding, like along the Russian river. Those circuits are in our copper network and have been forever. We fix those too.”

 “They submit coverage maps without regard to the actually topography. So they can submit a map, for example, that shows an area fully covered by cell service, but it doesn’t show that there’s hills and valleys and canyons and trees that don’t work in a deliberate attempt to obfuscate and obscure what’s going on.”

“So for our fire safe community, for a long time, I was the only one that had a phone, and people 10 miles out had to come use my phone.”

The Electrosensitive Population Need Landlines

A significant number of the population depends on a landline as their lifeline due to their inability to use wireless devices or be near cell towers due to a condition called electrosensitivity (aka, microwave illness, microwave syndrome, microwave sickness, radiofrequency illness, radiofrequency sickness, radiowave illness, radiowave sickness, electromagnetic sensitivity, electromagnetic hypersensitivity, electromagnetic illness, EHS). Electrosensitivity can be a life altering disability. It is defined as a pathological condition triggered by exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation emitted from electronic and wireless devices such as cell phones, tablets, laptop computers, Wi-Fi routers, white boards and nearby cell towers. Some people who are severely affected have difficulty being around high electric or magnetic fields as well, such as induction stoves.  People experience variable intensities of neurologic symptoms such as headache, poor concentration and memory effects, irritability, dizziness, nausea, insomnia, as well as heart palpitations, hormone disturbances and hematologic effects. Symptoms diminish or resolve with removal of the wireless radiofrequency exposure.

Electrosensitivity has been identified in countries throughout the world.  There has been a reported increase in this condition in the general population in the last 3 decades as the use of radiofrequency radiation devices and infrastructure has moved from military uses to widespread commercial use. Bevington (2019) notes in a review of reviews that electrosensitivity causes severe disability in about 0.065% of the population or about 253,000 of 39 million Californians.   Moderate electrosensitivity occurs in 1.5 to 5.0 % of the population or about 580,000 to 1.9 million Californians. Bevington M. The Prevalence of People with Restricted Access to Work in Manmade Electromagnetic Environments. A comprehensive European paper explains this symptoms complex

View Also Electrosensitivity Science https://mdsafetech.org/science/es-science/

View Also Electrosensitivity Stories https://mdsafetech.org/electrosensitivity-stories/  

Hacking and Jamming Risks Loom

A common definition of hacking is the act of compromising everything from digital devices like cell phones and tablets to entire networks through unauthorized access to an account or computer system. Cybercrime as well as cybersecurity are becoming a career opportunities.  As California residents above pointed out above, cybersecurity risks for wireless are well known and increasing. Hacking a computer can be done via wires or wirelessly, however, wireless systems facilitate this process.  Wireless systems are inherently risky with top threats  being unauthorized access, rogue access points, eavesdropping of sensitive information, Denial of Service attacks (DoS) and Man in the Middle Attacks where data can be intercepted and altered. This is especially concerning with 5G and the Internet of Things. A 2020 comprehensive U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report 5G Wireless: Capabilities and Challenges for an Evolving Network Report, discusses the evolving cybersecurity, privacy and health risks of 5G which includes current 4G wireless telecommunications, leading up to 6G with AI capability.  A letter from PST outlines the cautionary GAO report. Recommendations to secure wireless networks from hacking include strong passwords, encryption, firewalls and virtual private networks, however, clever malicious hackers have been known to bypass firewalls with a VPN and a VPN can make it harder but not impossible to be hacked.  

Rong (2014) notes. “In wireless networks, the espionage threat stems from the relative ease in which eavesdropping can occur on radio transmissions… Industrial and foreign espionage involve gathering proprietary data from corporations or intelligence information from governments through eavesdropping.

FBI Director Christopher Wray stated in an April 2024 Summit on Modern Conflicts and Emerging Threats, that Chinese hackers are developing the “ability to physically wreak havoc on our critical infrastructure at a time of its choosing,”  The article notes that, “The hacking campaign, known as Volt Typhoon, has embedded itself successfully in several American critical infrastructure companies that include telecommunications, energy and water, and others…”

There is an ever-escalating battle between new attack methods created by hackers to get around security measures, followed by new security measures created by anti-hacking defenders.  It is a money maker on both ends as Cybercrime Ventures expects global cybercrime to cost the world 10.5 Trillion annually by 2025. The article states, “This represents the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history, risks the incentives for innovation and investment, is exponentially larger than the damage from natural disasters in a year, and will be more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined. Cybercrime To Cost The World $10.5 Trillion Annually By 2025.

Insurance Companies Know the Cybersecurity Risks

Swiss RE Insurance company notes in its 2019 report of not-yet envisioned insurance industry threats, “The top five emerging risks in our SONAR 2019 report are digital technology’s clash with legacy hardware, potential threats from the spread of 5G mobile networks, increasingly limited fiscal and monetary flexibility by central banks, genetic testing’s implications on life insurers, and the impact of climate change on the life and health sector.”   The World Economic Forum Global Risk Report listed cyber insecurity as one of the top 10 risks for governments and organizations anticipating targeted attacks on critical infrastructure. This is reflected in the skyrocketing costs of cyber insurance.

We’re Jammin’

If you thought you were safe from hacking there is another tool malevolent actors use to disrupt our convenient wireless communications, Jamming.  Jamming attacks on wireless networks have been an increasing concern for the military, municipalities and disaster response authorities, as well as individuals. Wireless communication uses air as the medium to transmit data and this makes wireless networks susceptible to jamming attacks both on land, and with advanced jammers- even blocking satellite communications.  Jammers are used in jails to prevent prisoners from using their cell phones but jammers can deliberately or inadvertently block critical and emergency communications as well.

Jamming devices can be used on different networks to block communications by sending a radiofrequency signal with the same frequency and modulation to override the signal and stop the communication, or short out the power of devices.  This can occur for local Wi Fi networks (aka WLAN) used in homes, schools, offices and coffee shops. In addition, wireless Ad hoc Networks (AHN) operate with one device sending it to the next device without using an access point and do not need any pre-existing infrastructure. These types of networks are used mostly in the military and disaster situations, as well as mesh networks in cities. Vadlamani (2016) notes, “the open nature of wireless networks makes them vulnerable to various attacks.”

Burglars Like Jammin’  Too

Burglars use cellular and Wi-Fi jammers to disable “Smart” home security system cameras and alarms, and then easily enter homes. In a March 2024 attack in Glendale California, local police Sgt Victor Jackson stated, “So if you have a Ring camera, a Nest camera — any kind of alarm system that is WiFi-based or a camera that’s Wi Fi-based — it blocks the signal and knocks it out.” Police recommended hardwiring alarm systems and cameras in homes.  After a series of burglaries in late 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a safety meeting for residents was held in the city. Police noted that although jammers are illegal in the United States as they can also block 9-1-1 and other emergency calls, “the jammers can be bought online, usually from suppliers outside the US, and their price ranges depending on their power, usually between $40 to $1,000”.

Landlines and Wired Networks are Safer

While much effort needs to be invested in cybersecurity and privacy issues for telecommunication, landlines need to be preserved and restored as a critical system of primary communication for many and critical backup communication for residents, businesses and municipalities. Wireless communications are fraught with infrastructure and security issues.  Fiberoptic is an important component but still does not provide the safe, low energy, reliable and equitable attributes of landlines throughout the Nation.

 “First and foremost, the public needs publicly-owned and controlled wired infrastructure that is inherently more future-proof, more reliable, more sustainable, more energy efficient, safer, and more essential to many other services. Wireless networks and services, compared to wired access, are inherently more complex, more costly, more unstable (subject to frequent revision and “upgrades”), and more constrained in what they can deliver.” Timothy Schoechle, Reinventing Wires: The Future if Landlines and Networks

Reinventing Wires: The Future if Landlines and Networks. National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy, Washington, DC. Timothy Schoechle, PhD is a communications technology expert, international consultant in computer engineering and standardization, former faculty member of the University of Colorado, College of Engineering and Applied Science and Senior Research Fellow, National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy (NISLAPP).

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References

AT& T Information

Application of Pacific Bell Telephone Company d/b/a/ AT&T· California (U1001C) for Targeted Relief from its Carrier of Last Resort Obligation and Certain Associated Tariff Obligations, https://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Efile/G000/M502/K977/502977267.PDF

Ex Parte Communication – Application of Pacific Bell Telephone Company d/b/a/ AT&T· California (U1001C) for Targeted Relief from its Carrier of Last Resort Obligation and Certain Associated Tariff Obligations. https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/industries-and-topics/internet-and-phone/att-colr-etc-proceedings

Map of AT& T Coverage for COLR in California.  https://attcacolr.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=5d00a721f508432c9c7f1894084abc20

Network Exam of AT&T and Frontier/Verizon-UPDATE: Network Exam of AT&T and Frontier/Verizon, Phase I examined the period of 2010-2017 and Phase II examined the period of 2018-19.  https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/industries-and-topics/internet-and-phone/service-quality-and-etc/network-exam-of-att-and-frontier-verizon

AT&T applies to end obligation to service landlines in California. Feb 1, 2024. CBS. https://www.cbsnews.com/sacramento/news/at-t-applies-to-end-obligation-to-service-landlines/

AT&T Says the Outage to Its US Cellphone Network Was Not Caused by a Cyberattack.  AP. Feb 23, 2024.  https://www.securityweek.com/att-says-the-outage-to-its-us-cellphone-network-was-not-caused-by-a-cyberattack/

AT&T did not tell me I would lose my backup power when switching to fiber. Nov 29, 2021. https://forums.att.com/conversations/att-internet-equipment/att-did-not-tell-me-i-would-lose-mybackup-power-when-switching-to-fiber/61a5891e9c7e750ebbb90570

AT&T Forum. concerns with switching to fiber optic from old land line and DSL. Oct 8, 2014. https://forums.att.com/conversations/att-internet-equipment/concerns-with-switching-to-fiber-optic-from-old-land-line-and-dsl/5defde7bbad5f2f606d65193

Dear LA County: Time to Investigate How AT&T (Pac Bell) Helped to Create the Digital Divide. Bruce Kushnick. Medium.  Nov 2, 2022. https://kushnickbruce.medium.com/dear-la-county-time-to-investigate-how-at-t-pac-bell-helped-to-create-the-digital-divide-743f444b2149

CPUC Hearings and Comments

2/6/24 CPUC Public Hearing Clovis, California, February 6, 2024. BEFORE THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. Reporters transcript. In Person. https://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Efile/G000/M525/K135/525135904.PDF

2/22/24  CPUC Public Hearing Ukiah, California, February 22, 2024. In person. BEFORE THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. Reporters Transcript. https://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Efile/G000/M526/K148/526148077.PDF

3/14/24  CPUC Public Hearing Indio, California, March 14, 2024. In person.  BEFORE THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA.  Reporters Transcript. https://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Efile/G000/M529/K023/529023136.PDF

3/19/24  CPUC Virtual Public Participation Hearing , California, March 19, 2024. BEFORE THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. https://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Efile/G000/M528/K409/528409307.PDF

2024 CPUC Written Public Comments. A2303003 – Public Comments. Application of Pacific Bell Telephone Company d/b/a/ AT&T California (U1001C) for Targeted Relief from its Carrier of Last Resort Obligation and Certain Associated Tariff Obligations. https://apps.cpuc.ca.gov/apex/f?p=401:65:0::NO:RP,57,RIR:P5_PROCEEDING_SELECT:A2303003

CPUP Letters of Opposition to AT&T Proposal

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors weighs in on AT&T proposal to withdraw traditional landline service in California.  Mountain View Voice. March 12, 2024. https://www.mv-voice.com/santa-clara-county/2024/03/12/santa-clara-county-board-of-supervisors-weighs-in-on-att-proposal-to-withdraw-traditional-landline-service-in-california/#:~:text=Santa%20Clara%20County-,Santa%20Clara%20County%20Board%20of%20Supervisors%20weighs%20in%20on%20AT%26T,traditional%20landline%20service%20in%20California&text=The%20Santa%20Clara%20County%20Board,their%20meeting%20on%20March%2012.

County Demands Answers as AT&T Seeks to Cut Landlines. Feb 27, 2024. San Mateo County Executive Office. https://www.smcgov.org/ceo/news/county-demands-answers-att-seeks-cut-landlines

San Mateo County. AT&T Application for Relief of Carrier of Last Resort Obligation. https://www.marincounty.gov/sites/g/files/fdkgoe241/files/2024-03/2024-03-05-bos-att-carrier-of-last-resort-2-pager.pdf

Marin County Feb 16, 2024. Oppose letter AT&T Application Relief of Carrier of Last Resort Obligation. Feb 26, 2024. https://www.marincounty.gov/departments/executive/budget-and-priority-setting/legislative-support-and-advocacy/legislative-15

North Coast Officials Blast AT&T’s ‘Dangerous’ Proposal to Disconnect Landline Services in Communities Across California. Feb 8, 2024. Lost Coast Outpost. https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2024/feb/8/t-applies-end-landline-service/

REP. SCHIFF LEADS LETTER CALLING ON CPUC TO CONSIDER DANGEROUS IMPLICATIONS OF AT&T’S PLAN TO END REQUIRED LANDLINE SERVICES IN CALIFORNIA. Feb 14, 2024. https://schiff.house.gov/news/press-releases/rep-schiff-leads-letter-calling-on-cpuc-to-consider-dangerous-implications-of-atandts-plan-to-end-required-landline-services-in-california

CA congressman writes letter pushing back on AT&T’s request to stop servicing large areas of the state. Nijzel Dotson. KCRA 3.Feb 14, 2024. https://www.kcra.com/article/california-congressman-telephone-service-at-t-letter/46794310

Letter Congressional Representative Adam Schiff to CPUC on Landlines.  Feb 14, 2024. https://schiff.house.gov/imo/media/doc/cpuc_letter.pdf “I am also especially concerned with the potential public safety issues which could arise if the CPUC approves AT&T’s proposal. Californians in rural and urban areas often face natural disasters, including earthquakes, flooding, and fires. In these times of emergencies, our landlines become the most dependable form of communication. While wireless connection is unreliable and cell phones can run out of battery, copper landlines have stronger receptions during power outages.

Rep. Panetta Calls on CPUC to Protect Access to Landline Services. Feb 23, 2024. https://panetta.house.gov/media/press-releases/rep-panetta-calls-cpuc-protect-access-landline-services

Backlash over AT&T bid to dump landlines continues. Here’s how North Coast residents can still weigh in. Press Democrat. Marisa Endicott.  March 20, 2024.    https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/backlash-over-att-bid-to-dump-landlines-continues-in-public-forums/

Napa County Board of Supervisors letter to CPUC. March 13, 2024.- https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/napa/a-severe-threat-napa-county-supervisors-oppose-att-proposal-to-end-land/

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors weighs in on AT&T proposal to withdraw traditional landline service in California– Supervisors cite concerns about safety and reliability with potential loss of traditional landline services in the county. March 12, 2024. https://www.mv-voice.com/santa-clara-county/2024/03/12/santa-clara-county-board-of-supervisors-weighs-in-on-att-proposal-to-withdraw-traditional-landline-service-in-california/

North State officials oppose AT&T’s proposal to drop landline service. Feb 9, 2024. https://www.mynspr.org/news/2024-02-09/north-state-officials-oppose-at-ts-proposal-to-drop-landline-service

Inyo County Opposes AT&T Request to Eliminate Landline Service. Inyo County. Feb 15, 2024. https://www.inyocounty.us/government/board-supervisors/news/inyo-county-opposes-att-request-eliminate-landline-service

Rural County Representatives of California Report. CPUC. Concludes Hearings on AT&T’s Request to Discontinue Legacy Landline Phone Service March 24, 2024. Sierra Sun Times. https://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/55185-rural-county-representatives-of-california-rcrc-report-california-public-utilities-commission-cpuc-concludes-public-hearings-on-at-t-s-request-to-discontinue-legacy-landline-phone-service

5G Security Risks

Government Accountability Office (GAO). 5G Wireless: Capabilities and Challenges for an Evolving Network. GAO-21-26SP. Nov 24, 2020.
https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-21-26sp

A survey on security issues of 5G NR: Perspective of artificial dust and artificial rain. Journal of network and Computer Applications.  Shafi M et al.  15 June 2020, 102597. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1084804520300710

CyberCrime and CyberSecurity

Cybersecurity Issues in Wireless Sensor Networks: Current Challenges and Solutions. Boubiche, D.E et al. Wireless Pers Commun 117, 177–213 (2021). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11277-020-07213-5

Companies warned to step up cyber security to become ‘insurable’. Jan 12, 2023. Computer Weekly. https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252529132/Companies-warned-to-step-up-cyber-security-to-become-insurable

Cybercrime To Cost The World $10.5 Trillion Annually By 2025. Cybercrime Magazine. Nov 2020. https://cybersecurityventures.com/cybercrime-damages-6-trillion-by-2021/

Cyber Theft of Customer Data a Growing Risk for US Health Insurers. June 29, 2021. Fitch Ratings.  https://www.fitchratings.com/research/insurance/cyber-theft-of-customer-data-growing-risk-for-us-health-insurers-29-06-2021

‘Cyber-physical attacks’ fueled by AI are a growing threat, experts say. March 3, 2024. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2024/03/03/cyber-physical-attacks-fueled-by-ai-are-a-growing-threat-experts-say.html

Cybersecurity: A Global Priority and Career Opportunity. University of North Georgia. https://ung.edu/continuing-education/news-and-media/cybersecurity.php

Network and System Security. Rong C et al. 2014. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/wireless-network-security

I installed top 100 apps: my Android phone contacted Russia and China at night. Feb 9, 2024. Ernestas Naprys. Cybernews. https://cybernews.com/editorial/android-phone-top-apps-contact-russia-china/

Companies warned to step up cyber security to become ‘insurable’. Jan 12, 2023. Computer Weekly. https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252529132/Companies-warned-to-step-up-cyber-security-to-become-insurable

Hacking

What are the top wireless network security risks? Portnox.  https://www.portnox.com/cybersecurity-101/wireless-network-security-risks/

Network and System Security. Rong C et al. 2014. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/wireless-network-security

The Ultimate Guide to Wireless Network Security for Small Businesses Sept 2, 2022. Cybersecurity Exchange. https://www.eccouncil.org/cybersecurity-exchange/network-security/guide-to-wireless-network-security/  

In a new hacking crime wave, much more personal data is being held hostage. CNBC. May 7, 2023. https://www.cnbc.com/2023/05/07/in-a-new-hacking-crime-wave-more-personal-data-is-being-held-hostage.html

Major ChatGPT Outage Caused by DDoS Attack. ChatGPT and its API have experienced a major outage due to a DDoS attack apparently launched by Anonymous Sudan. Security Week. Nov 9, 2023. https://www.securityweek.com/major-chatgpt-outage-caused-by-ddos-attack/

Wired Magazine Hacking Articles. https://www.wired.com/tag/hacking

Powerful ‘Brokewell’ Android Trojan Allows Attackers to Takeover Devices. Security Week.  April 26, 2024. https://www.securityweek.com/powerful-brokewell-android-trojan-allows-attackers-to-takeover-devices/

What we know about the hacking attack that targeted the U.S. healthcare system. April 27, 2024. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2024/04/27/1247649283/what-we-know-about-the-hacking-attack-that-targeted-the-u-s-healthcare-system

Why UnitedHealth, Change Healthcare were targeted by ransomware hackers, and more cybercrime will hit patients, doctors. March 15, 2024. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2024/03/15/why-unitedhealth-change-healthcare-were-targets-of-ransomware-hackers.html

UnitedHealth says Change hackers stole health data on ‘substantial proportion of people in America’. The health tech giant handles health data for about half of all Americans. April 22, 2024.  https://techcrunch.com/2024/04/22/unitedhealth-change-healthcare-hackers-substantial-proportion-americans/

Does a VPN protect you from hackers? NORD VPN.  https://nordvpn.com/blog/does-a-vpn-protect-you-from-hackers/#:~:text=VPNs%20are%20extremely%20useful%2C%20but,side%20when%20your%20data%20arrives.

Malware. Relational Database Design and Implementation. Jan L. Harrington. 2016. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/malware

Russia-linked hacking group claims to have targeted Indiana water plant. April 22, 2024. CNN.   https://www.cnn.com/2024/04/22/politics/russia-linked-hacking-group-targets-indiana-water-plant/index.html

FBI Director Wray Warns Chinese Hackers are Preparing to ‘Wreak Havoc’ on US Infrastructure. CNN Politics. January 31, 2024.  https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/31/politics/china-hacking-infrascture-fbi-director-christopher-wray/index.html#:~:text=The%20Chinese%20hackers%20are%20working,threats%20to%20our%20physical%20safety.%E2%80%9D

First Major Attempts to Regulate AI Face Headwinds From All Sides

While over 400 AI-related bills are being debated this year in statehouses nationwide, most target one industry or just a piece of the technology — such as deepfakes used in elections. Security Week. April 19, 2024. https://www.securityweek.com/first-major-attempts-to-regulate-ai-face-headwinds-from-all-sides/

 Jamming

Jammer Enforcement. Federal Communications Commission. https://www.fcc.gov/general/jammer-enforcement

Jamming attacks on wireless networks: A taxonomic survey. International Journal of Production Economics. Vadlamani S et al.  Vol 172. February 2016, Pages 76-94. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S092552731500451X

Thieves using cellular and Wi-Fi jammers to enter homes for robbery. USA Today. Feb 29, 2024. Kim Komando.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/komando/2024/02/29/thieves-using-wifi-jammer/72758559007/

Glendale police issue warning about burglars using WiFi jammers to disable alarms, security cameras. March 21, 2024. https://abc7.com/glendale-police-issue-warning-about-burglars-wifi-jammers-disable-alarms-security-cameras/14554887/

Burglars using jammers to disable wireless smart home security. Feb 19, 2024. Cybernews. https://cybernews.com/security/jammers-disable-wireless-home-security/

PUTTING AN END TO ILLEGAL CELL PHONE USE IN PRISONS. FCC. https://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/docs/summits/Combating-Contraband-Cell-Phones-in-Prison-Handout-v4.pdf

Exposure to Radiofrequency Radiation Emitted from Common Mobile Phone Jammers Alters the Pattern of Muscle Contractions: an Animal Model Study. Rafati A et al. J Biomed Phys Eng.  J Biomed Phys Eng. 2015 Sep; 5(3): 133–142. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4576874/

‘Headaches, fainting’, Palestinian prisoners suffer effects of Israel jamming devices. March 7, 2019. Middle East Monitor. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190307-headaches-fainting-palestinian-prisoners-suffer-effects-of-israel-jamming-devices/

Bengaluru jail jammers make next-door residents ‘not reachable’ 24×7. March 7, 2024. The Times of India.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/bengaluru-jail-jammers-make-next-door-residents-not-reachable-24×7/articleshow/108279752.cms

Evaluating the Effect of Jammer Radiation on Learning and Memory in Male Rats. J Biomed Phys Eng.   2023 Feb; 13(1): 29–38. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9923240/  

Male reproductive health under threat: Short term exposure to radiofrequency radiations emitted by common mobile jammers. Mortazavi SMA et al. J Hum Reprod Sci 2013 Apr-Jun; 6(2): 124–128. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3778601/

Can Satellite Signal Jamming Cause Health Hazards? Preliminary studies have indicated that jamming signals do have some side effects on health, and can increase the risk of developing different types of cancers. January 21, 2017. Fiancial Tribune. Iran. https://financialtribune.com/articles/people/57885/can-satellite-signal-jamming-cause-health-hazards

References Other

Belyaev I et al. EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/reveh-2016-0011/html

Bevington M. The Prevalence of People with Restricted Access to Work in Manmade Electromagnetic Environments. (2019)   Journal of Environment and Health Science. Vol 5:1, 01-12.  ResearchGate- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331378367_The_Prevalence_of_People_With_Restricted_Access_to_Work_in_Man-Made_Electromagnetic_Environments

FCC. Tech Transitions: Network Upgrades That May Affect Your Service. Fiberoptic Power Backup. https://www.fcc.gov/tech-transitions

Schoechle, T. Reinventing Wires: The Future if Landlines and Networks. National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy, Washington, DC. Timothy Schoechle, PhD is a communications technology expert, international consultant in computer engineering and standardization, former faculty member of the University of Colorado, College of Engineering and Applied Science and Senior Research Fellow, National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy (NISLAPP). https://electromagnetichealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ReInventing-Wires-1-25-18.pdf

Swiss: Re Insurance. SONAR 2019: New emerging risk insights. https://www.swissre.com/institute/research/sonar/sonar2019.html

Physicians for Safe Technology