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AT&T Adds Contract Language to Replace Wired Landlines with VoIP or Wireless Alternative

Phillip Dampier May 17, 2017 AT&T, Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't 5 Comments

AT&T has spent the last several years laying the foundation to pull the plug on its wired legacy landline service.

In preparation for a transition away from Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS), AT&T is notifying customers of a change to the residential service agreement governing home phone service. The company has added a new section entitled “Network Changes” that gives AT&T the right to temporarily suspend landline service to replace it either with AT&T’s U-verse “Voice over IP” service or a wireless home phone alternative. The agreement requires customers to accept the transition, allow technicians to enter the customer’s home to install new equipment, and permits AT&T to use the customer’s electricity to power that equipment. If a customer refuses to grant entry, AT&T can permanently disconnect your landline phone service without recourse.

Similar contract language was introduced in other areas where wireless home phone equipment was intended to replace traditional landline service in areas where a local phone company chose not to repair or upgrade its facilities. AT&T intends to enforce the agreement in areas where it serves as the local landline phone company.

d. Network Changes.

AT&T reserves the right at any time to temporarily suspend or interrupt Services to make necessary changes in how we provide Services to your premises. We will provide advance notice of these network changes to the extent required by this Agreement, applicable law, and regulation. In some cases, such changes in how we provide Services may require a technician to be dispatched to your home to install new network equipment at your premises and transfer your service to the new network equipment in order to ensure you continue to receive such Services. The network equipment we install at your home may require the use of your electrical power for the operation of our facilities. Where a technician visit is required, if you do not allow AT&T to install the new network equipment at your premises, your telephone service may be disconnected in compliance with subsection (b) above.

(Image courtesy: “Ramsaso” of Houston, Tex.)

Currently there are 5 comments on this Article:

  1. JayS says:

    Has Att actually announced that they are moving ahead with this for any entire exchange/central office? Or, is this Simpy putting everyone on notice that this will happen in the near future?

    I hope they give significant notice (ie 180 days) as I have numerous alarm panels that will need to be upgraded to work over the internet or cell.

    • Jared says:

      Given this is Houston, I think this may be for copper retirements rather than getting rid of POTS; there’s some areas around the area with fiber already, as there are a few others in state like Austin and San Antonio. Those cities probably got similar notices as well. If you’re in a state with no fiber, no plans for it and you get one of these however, then there’s some probably some serious trouble coming.

      I think if they’re trying to migrate you off of POTS, they’re from a legal perspective, terminating service rather than changing what serves your local loop. As far as the language in the ToS change, that’s probably a fairly important distinction.

      That being said however, the new FCC chairman has been making a lot of very sudden, extreme reversals on Obama-era telecom policy, and right around the beginning of July, assuming he gets his way (which is more or less guaranteed; the net neutrality stuff has proven him to be quite obstinate, and there’s basically no opposition to him), there’ll no longer be much federal authority to prevent them from terminating POTS service. Right along with this, they also got rid of price cap rules for inter-office trunks to CLECs and competitive mobile providers (basically meaning since they have to buy trunks from AT&T and AT&T can now raise the prices of the infrastructure they sell to competitors as high as they want, they can effectively price them out of the market), and of course, are also trying to gut net neutrality.

      For whatever it’s worth, there’s a collective of people trying to sue the FCC to stop this. I tossed them a few bucks and try to encourage everybody else to as well: https://www.gofundme.com/suethefcc .

  2. Required says:

    I’d recommend refusing their new terms, and calling up your state public utilities commission. Utilities don’t get to just refuse to provide service to you.







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