Inyo County Opposes AT&T Request to Eliminate Landline Service

Inyo County has joined the growing chorus of opposition to AT&T’s proposal to discontinue landline telecommunications service throughout California, including Death Valley and surrounding communities.


AT&T has filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) seeking relief from Carrier of Last Resort (COLR) obligations. A COLR is required by the CPUC to provide landline service – or what’s known as “Plain Old Telephone Service” (POTS) – upon request to all residential and business customers in its service territory. 


AT&T wants to be relieved of its COLR obligations so that it can eliminate landline service in more than 99 percent of its service territory where alternative providers exist and offer cellular or Internet-based phone service. POTS comes with a uniform set of minimum service standards and regulations that does not extend to these alternative providers and, without a COLR, customers would have no guarantee of having access to reliable and affordable phone service.    


Inyo County strongly opposes the application because it could have detrimental impacts on some of Inyo’s more isolated communities – including the disabled, elderly, and economically disadvantaged residents that call those areas home and currently rely almost exclusively on landline telecommunications service.

In addition to causing hardship for the 1,000-plus residents of Southeast Inyo County and 1.7 million annual visitors to Death Valley National Park – where cell phone and Internet service are notoriously unreliable – AT&T’s request also raises significant safety concerns for these communities that have historically been at risk for natural disasters and often experience power outages. During emergencies, customers and first responders need reliable access to 9-1-1 and 2-1-1 service, including the ability to receive alerts and notifications. POTS is considered the most reliable communications tool in the safety net arsenal. 

Inyo County believes that it is essential for customers to retain, at their option, resilient communications services such as POTS. COLR relief should not be granted without securing widespread alternatives with uniform, technologically neutral minimum service quality standards.

The CPUC is currently accepting public comment via its website and at a series of public meetings, the schedule for which follows:

  • 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. February 22, 2024 – In-person only; Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, 501 Low Gap Rd., Room 1070, Ukiah, CA 95482

  • 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. March 14, 2024 – In-person only; Indio City Hall Council Chambers, 100 Civic Center Mall, Indio, CA 92201

  • 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. March 19, 2024 – Virtual only;, 1-800-857-1917 (Passcode: 6032788#)

Simultaneously, the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), which also opposes the application, is seeking input from rural county residents by March 1 via the following survey: 

For more information and to submit online comments directly to the CPUC:,57,RIR:P5_PROCEEDING_SELECT:A2303003.


For a map of AT&T’s affected service area: