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California Looking To Get Rid Of ' Warm Line 911'

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So how many people know that they could still dial 911 on a dead home phone line in California? Well California is soon to get rid of that feature. It is for barebones safety, but does tie up a phone number in the system(millions of numbers). So many people have gone to cell phones that they no longer need their home phone line so they canceled it.

No real opposition from legislators, due to ummmm donations from the TelCo's.

And some cell phone carriers(I don't know how many) in North America, if your cell phone does not have a plan(expired) but is tied to a carrier, you can still call 911 with it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9-1-1

Also make note of the line in the article about phantom 911 calls. From what I have read, it is a scam by the police to illegally enter and search your home by claiming that your phone line dialed 911 all by itself. And the police will threaten the occupant for denying access for the 911 call. And your phone provider will have no record of any 911 call taking place.

So what would happen if you called 911 when a cop shows up on a fake 911 call? But at least it documents it with the real 911 for any court case.

Phone giants' proposal to drop some 911 lines strongly backed by California lawmakers

Bill would end a requirement to maintain home lines capable only of calling a 911 center even after service is cut. Backers call it a waste of resources. An opponent says his side is being outspent.

With subscribers increasingly dropping their land lines for wireless and Internet calling, California's telephone companies are lobbying the Legislature to let them abandon large portions of the state's 911 emergency calling system.

AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., which account for 90% of California's wired phones, and some smaller companies are backing a bill to change a 1995 law that requires them to keep so-called warm lines — capable only of calling a 911 center — for residences even after service has been disconnected.

The law applies regardless of whether service is cut for, say, failure to pay bills or is dropped voluntarily in favor of wireless-only phone service.

So far, state legislators unanimously support the telephone companies. The Senate passed the measure and, last week, the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee voted for it. Dropping 911 support for warm lines also means that all carriers would save a total of about $100 million a year, according to AT&T estimates.

Consumer advocates want at least some of the lines maintained, and many small law enforcement agencies oppose the changes.

"We were kind of getting the bum's rush," from lawmakers, said Charlie Cullen, the manager of a 911 center in Palo Alto who testified against the bill at a hearing of the Assembly committee last week. "We don't have the resources of the telcos."

AT&T lobbyist William H. Devine believes it's about time to make the change. "The requirement made sense when there was only one company providing local telephone service in a given geographical area," he wrote to the Assembly committee.

"Today, as consumers choose other communications alternatives, what was intended as a transition service with a public safety benefit has become a public safety burden that also imposes unnecessary costs on the state, local governments and telephone customers," he wrote.

The industry-sponsored bill would maintain warm-line connections to residences for 120 days after service is cut.

Consumer advocates and 911 system professionals acknowledge that warm lines could be cut for those who voluntarily end land-line service. But they want to slow the carriers' rush to jettison those lines to ensure no damage is done to the emergency network and that low-income people can call for help even if their phones are disconnected for nonpayment.

"Our concern is about someone who tries to use 911 from a warm line and cannot get through," said 911 dispatcher Mary Pat Marshal, president of the California chapter of the National Emergency Number Assn. "As an agency that advocates for 911, we can't support something that takes away 911" from people who involuntarily lost their phone service.

More study is needed by the California Public Utilities Commission before shutting down the warm lines, consumer advocates argued.

Land lines, unlike many cellphone or voice-over-Internet systems, don't depend on the electric grid for power. That makes them valuable in a major catastrophe, such as a flood or and an earthquake, that causes widespread electrical blackouts, said Michael Shames, executive director of the Utility Consumers' Action Network in San Diego.

Residential users who sign up for an Internet-based cable phone system must sign waivers acknowledging that their old warm-line connections have been cut.

"Warm lines were never intended for long-term emergency access," said AT&T spokesman James Peterson. Verizon spokesman Jonathan Davies noted that because warm lines are not tested, "there's no way to determine how many would work in an emergency."

Communications experts note that deteriorating lines are unreliable and sometimes place erroneous "phantom" calls to 911 centers, though it is unclear how prevalent the problem is.

The network is becoming less reliable as more residential users give up their land lines because the phone companies no longer maintain the lines. Over the last five years, the number of unused warm lines has skyrocketed from 150,000 to about 2 million, AT&T said, and the number is expected to double by 2014.

Land lines in California dropped to 20.3 million in 2008 from 24.8 million in 2001, according to the latest PUC figures. Wireless operators report that their customers increased to 31.7 million from 14.2 million in the same period.

"The current system is not serving Californians," said state Sen. Curren Price Jr. (D-Inglewood), author of the warm-line bill, SB 1375. "It's wasting dwindling resources and is unsustainable. In a few short years, we'll have more warm lines than we'll actually have two-way wire-line service."

Low-income residential users would get better access to emergency help by signing up for a subsidized lifeline service, authorized by the PUC, for less than $4 a month, he said. Lifeline provides basic local phone service.

The lack of opposition votes in the Legislature was "certainly an eye-opener," said Cullen, the 911 call center manager and one of only three people who spoke against the bill in the Assembly committee hearing. About two dozen phone and cable company lobbyists were there to support the measure.

The state's big telephone companies have long kept close ties with lawmakers. Each year, for instance, AT&T sponsors two major Democratic fundraising events, the Speaker's Cup and the Pro Tem's Cup golf tournaments at Pebble Beach near Monterey.

California's political watchdog agency, the Fair Political Practices Commission, said in a March report that AT&T was the state's eighth-biggest spender in "attempting to shape public policy by influencing California's voters and public officials" in the last decade.

The company spent $59.6 million on lobbying lawmakers and state agencies and on political contributions to candidates and ballot measures.

"You see how it works in the Legislature," Cullen said, "where money and power certainly talks."

Source: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-phone-911-20100707,0,7327067.story Edited by zalternate

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I've taken quite a few of those phantom calls. Not one that I can remember has turned out valid although quite a few open lines of hang-ups have. What's wild is when you send someone out to check a call and find out the house isn't even there anymore. Burned out, demolished, or a mobile home that's been moved, whatever the reason, nothing but a vacant lot.

On the flip side, I'm about ready to kill my landline also unless they manage to get DSL extended to me which is doubtful given the distance I am from the CO.

Proposal would be to keep the line warm for 6 - 12 months after disconnect, then kill it unless there is a specific request from someone living there to keep it warm.

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