AT&T and Frontier have let phone networks fall apart, Calif. regulator finds

Source: Ars Technica

Article note: The problem isn't that the POTS network is old and rotting (and basically just a vestigial adapter to a VOIP system). The problem is that we've been paying for replacements for over 25 years, and the incumbent telcos have not been delivering on promised coverage and reliability. Largely by successfully lobbying to not be regulated to an appropriate level, and blithely ignoring the regulations that do exist with no fear of repercussions because of staggeringly successful regulatory capture.
A pair of scissors being used to cut a wire coming out of a landline telephone.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | CalypsoArt)

AT&T and Frontier have let their copper phone networks deteriorate through neglect since 2010, resulting in poor service quality and many lengthy outages, a report commissioned by the California state government found. Customers in low-income areas and areas without substantial competition have fared the worst, the report found. AT&T in particular was found to have neglected low-income communities and to have imposed severe price increases adding up to 152.6 percent over a decade.

The report was written in April 2019 but kept private because data submitted by the carriers was deemed confidential and proprietary. The report finally became public after the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ruled in December 2020 that a redacted version had to be released by mid-January.

A summary of the CPUC-commissioned report identified six key findings:

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