Letters – April 5, 2019

Copper Landline Success

Dear Editor,

After five months of fighting with Frontier, I was finally able to get a copper landline installed at my house. I know there are many others in the Canyon who are also trying to get this done (one neighbor has been trying for over a year). I’m sharing this in the hopes that it will be helpful to anyone in the same situation.

During the fires in November, we lost all communications to our house when Spectrum’s Voice Over IP (VOIP) went out. As many of you know, the cell towers in Topanga do not have battery backups so, when the power goes out, the cell service goes down. With SoCal Edison threatening to shut off power to the Canyon during high wind events, this greatly hampers evacuation efforts and will put lives at risk.

After the evacuation was lifted in November, I called AT&T to see about getting a copper landline (copper landlines work during power outages). Though my nextdoor neighbors have AT&T for their service, the company informed me that they no longer do installs in Topanga. They directed me to Frontier. I contacted Frontier and they first were unsure whether they do landline installs here. After a half dozen persistent calls, I finally got them to agree to do the install. Then it got weird. Frontier skipped the first install appointment without notifying me. Right before the next three appointments, I would get a recorded call saying that it was being rescheduled. Every time I spoke to someone at

Frontier, I would re-confirm that the install was for a copper landline. They would reply, “No, this is for VOIP.” Finally, I spoke to a technician from Malibu who told me that Frontier doesn’t want to have to maintain the lines. He said that he did not know of a single copper line install in this area in the last three years. When I contacted Frontier again, they informed me that I had canceled the install request (totally untrue).

They are a grossly incompetent company at all levels.

On the verge of giving up, I looked into satellite phones but there are no good solutions there, either. Finally, a friend of mine who is a lawyer, advised me to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission. I did so and then filed a complaint with the President’s Office at Frontier, informing them that I had filed the government complaints.

I began to get calls from multiple, very helpful people in the Frontier President’s office (they really do not like FCC complaints against them). It still took the President’s office nearly a month to get things sorted out and get a technician out to do the install. We finally succeeded and now have an old-school, copper line telephone that we pay roughly $50/month for and will never use except in an emergency. I look at it as an important insurance policy that may someday save our lives. It only took five months and roughly 25 phone calls but it can be done.

I have included the links below to help anyone out who wants to get a landline installed.

• FCC: https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/

• CPUC: https://appsssl.cpuc.ca.gov/cpucapplication

• Frontier Office of the President: https://frontier.com/office-of-thepresident-form

—Justin Oppmann


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