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Surprising Science

More Proof That The Landline Is Dying A Slow Death

Verizon says it doesn’t want to replace copper-wire lines damaged during last year’s Superstorm Sandy, and AT&T hopes to turn off its entire landline network by 2020.

What’s the Latest Development?

Some residents of parts of the US hardest-hit by last year’s Superstorm Sandy are finding themselves up against yet another hurdle: Verizon, the nation’s second-largest phone company, doesn’t want to repair damaged copper-wire lines and is instead recommending that people switch to wireless or cable options. Their rationale: Prior to the storm, less than a third of their customers in the area were using traditional phones. However, one of them, 85-year-old Robert Post, has a pacemaker that requires monthly checking via landline, and now he has to travel to a friend’s house to do it. Legislators in both New York and New Jersey have initiated efforts to prevent Verizon from abandoning the lines.

What’s the Big Idea?

Since 2000, 100 million phone lines have been disconnected across the country, and although Verizon is taking the lead, other companies plan to follow in their footsteps. Its larger competitor, AT&T, would like to be completely landline-free by 2020. As more Americans give up landlines, and cable and fiber-optic options spread, it does seem like an economically logical decision. However, AT&T is taking the slow approach, says lobbyist Bob Quinn: “The trouble is not going to be identifying the issues everybody can see. It’s going to be finding the unexpected issues that you have to conquer.”

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Read it at Salon


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