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Many rural communities in South Monterey County urge AT&T not to cut landline services

BRADLEY, Calif. (KION) - Landlines may be an old-school form of communication, but they are still heavily used especially in rural communities and in the case of disasters.

With AT&T being in talks with the California Public Utilities Commission about removing the service, several communities across Monterey County may be left without it.

For many in South Monterey County, landlines are a lifeline. In a rural town with dead zones, people in Bradley raise concern as AT&T seeks to cut off a critical form of communication.

"Being so far out, it's essential that we have those landlines," said June Yardley who lives near Bradley.

You're saving lives with a landline. You are helping for the safety of our community, the landline," said Meth Vicente who works in Bradley.

Off camera the Bradley Unified School District KION they use landlines on a day-to-day basis.

For some, landlines are the only way they know how to communicate like Yardley's grandfather.

"My grandfather is 93, and, cell phone use is not an option for him. And, he relies on that, you know, staying in contact with the family and friends and, for personal medical reasons, everything," said Yardley.

In an area prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, storms, and wildfires that have caused power to go out, landlines were the only form of contact many people had.

As the California Public Utilities Commission is still considering AT&T's proposal to discontinue landlines, county leaders express their concern over the potential change.

"I'm hearing it from throughout the state, especially here at home in our rural community, saying, no, we have areas where you still don't have cell service. And if we give this up, we've lost all communication, especially in times of disaster," said Supervisor for Monterey County Chris Lopez.

In a statement from representative Jimmy Panetta, he says quote: “We wanted to make sure that the CPUC fully understands the lack of connectivity in certain rural areas in good times and in bad, and the need for landlines for the people who live in those types of communities.”

AT&T provided a statement, reassuring 911 calls can still be made.

"None of our California customers will lose access to voice service or 911 service. And for customers who do not have alternatives available, we will continue to provide service until such time as an alternative is available."

According to a list of locations where AT&T is looking to remove landline services, some areas in Monterey County like Big Sur will still have the service.

That's a question supervisor Chris Lopez wants to ask AT&T: Why the area of Big Sur will not lose landline services but surrounding communities like Aroyo Seco are?

He tells me AT&T has agreed to hold a meeting to answer questions regarding these changes in South Monterey County but the day and time are still being discussed.

So far AT&T is holding four public forums in other areas of California this month and next month.

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Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.


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