Spotty Wireless Communication Is an Issue in Pacific Palisades

This AT&T pole is located along Pacific Coast Highway.

On February 5, Pacific Palisades Community Council Area 8 Representative Reza Akef wrote an email to Circling the News and PPCC members that he wanted that body to address Spectrum/Frontier services here.

Akef noted that “The customer service doesn’t care when service doesn’t work because their first assumption is that it’s the subscriber’s fault…. For your information, the City of LA requires that every utility company maintain a representative that addresses such problems (this includes the wireless companies as well).”

CTN posted Akef’s plea in a February 7 Musings and responses were quick. The following day, we received the following letter:

“Where to start….  Last October all of the wireless communication went out abruptly in Castellammare and I believe Sunset Mesa, leaving about 1000 customers with no service.

“Countless calls to their 800 numbers resulted in the service finally resuming about two weeks later. AT&T all that time maintained that it was just my phone. I have been told by a source since then that AT&T knew exactly how many mobile phones were out of service but kept insisting that their towers were all working and showed GREEN needing no repairs.

“Their employees insisted that the towers working east of us were fine but did finally send someone out to look into the situation and magically service was restored. (All of us facing the ocean do not receive our service east of us.  Our service comes from towers along PCH.)

There has been continued vandalism to the AT&T equipment.

“We were all happy for about two weeks when the service went out again.  Multiple more calls were made to ATT.  Service was once again out for 10 or more days.  Service restored.  Service went out again and again through the holidays. Calls to their 800 number eventually sent repairmen out again, but enough was enough. I contacted the FCC.

“The FCC contacted ATT and I received an email response from Ruth Hussey, secretary to the president of ATT. After several days of my trying to contact her via my landline and email and no response, I discovered while going to Gelson’s for groceries that she had been leaving messages on my NON-WORKING mobile phone. Duh. I had given the FCC my landline number, but she claimed that she had not been given it and therefore was calling my mobile phone. I immediately called her on my mobile phone and gave her my landline.

“I explained to her the situation and hoped that it could be resolved quickly. The attached response was sent to me within minutes after I ended my call with her, and my claim closed. I would guarantee that most all of us up here have never seen a document like the one she sent me.

“I have had AT&T (with another service in the interim) for at least 25 years with no real issues. I was dumbfounded to see written words that claimed we had NO Service if foliage, weather, etc. hampered our reception. Really?!! and that we were allowed ‘limited’ service. Wrong. I knew it was another problem and most likely with their towers.

“As it happened while I was getting ready to send another email to the FCC, I saw an AT&T truck parked across my street. I went out and knocked on his door. He was trying to see if he could get reception on his AT&T mobile phone as his co-worker was repairing an issue elsewhere trying to fix our lack of service here.

“We had service restored January 13, but it went out again on the 17th. Service was not restored again until February 1. The worker was most informative and told me what I had already suspected: (my term) an equipment box next to a tower on PCH had been severely vandalized. They had been trying to get parts, had partly succeeded and were waiting for more parts. He sent me pictures of the issue. The ‘box’ is just south of Maestro’s restaurant connected to a light pole.

“I sent the pictures to Ms. Hussey. She has now called back claiming (after all these months) that she has sent someone out to check on the issue.

“Meanwhile we had service for a week? and now it is out again. I suppose this time ATT will blame it on the fog.

“I am hoping to hear from ‘my repairman’ and possibly Ms. Hussey today.”

Another resident wrote that there are three wireless services here: T-Mobile (merged with Sprint), Verizon (acquired by Frontier) and AT&T.

Regarding Spectrum (part of Charter Communications) and Frontier, the reader wrote: “They’re the landline providers for Internet and phone service in the Palisades. Frontier doesn’t offer wireless cellular phone service, Spectrum does offer wireless cellular phone, but they are only a reseller of service on Verizon Wireless.

“I don’t believe the City of L.A. has much clout with any of them, except for maybe a little with Spectrum. Most of that went away when the State of California took regulation of cable franchises away from the cities [2006]. There are studies that show that cable rates have risen more in California than in all but a few states since the change in regulation.”

A February 2 consumer column in the L.A. Times (“You’re Stuck at Home. So, Of Course, Cable and Internet Bills Are Rising, Again”) noted that “From February 1996 to December 2020, Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America, said ‘Cable rates have soared by 250 percent. That translates to average annual increases of 3.9 percent — almost double the average inflation rate of 2.2 percent over the same period.’”

According to the story, “Rates for many of the communications and content services we’ve all grown to rely on over the last year have risen recently or will rise in 2021, and there’s little you can do about it.”

The Circling the News’ reader was hopeful because in December as “part of California’s approval of Frontier’s exit from bankruptcy, Frontier has agreed to expand their fiber optic Internet to many more areas. Likely the Palisades would be included. This would be huge for the Palisades because Spectrum is the only option for most of the Palisades, and threads complaining about Spectrum fairly regularly appear on Nextdoor, far outnumbering complaints about Frontier service.” The resident noted that Frontier already has service in Malibu, Topanga and parts of Santa Monica so “It would give them more contiguous coverage for marketing and sales” and it’s “mostly overhead lines, so construction is less costly.”

(Editor’s note: According to the California 2020 annual report of the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act (DIVCA), which is supposed to promote video competition and the deployment of more and better broadband services, there are 28 active SVG providers with the top five providers listed as AT&T, Frontier (acquired Verizon in 2016), Comcast, Cox and Charter. (https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/uploadedFiles/CPUCWebsite/Content/About_Us/Organization/Divisions/Office_of_Governmental_Affairs/Legislation/2020/DIVCA%20Report%20Dec%202020.pdf

Who do you have?

A U.S. News January 14, 2021 story (“Best Internet Providers in Los Angeles, California,” under Fast Facts About Internet Service in Los Angeles), notes “There are eight internet providers in Los Angeles available for home use. The cheapest internet service above 10 Mbps in Los Angeles is the $39.99/month 20 Mbps plan from Sonic. The fastest internet in Los Angeles is from AT&T Internet, with its 1,000 Mbps IPBB, Fiber internet plan. Of the eight providers in Los Angeles, three of them offer bundled services like cable TV and home phone. The average speed test in Los Angeles clocks in at 101.92 Mbps, which is 15.27% higher than the national average.”

What if you have a disagreement with your provider? 

First contact your local provider, and if they don’t respond, contact the FCC https://broadbandnow.com/guides/how-to-file-fcc-ftc-internet-complaint, 1)Once your complaint is submitted, your ISP has 30 days in order to respond directly to you while CC’ing the FCC; 2) stay on top of the complaint so it doesn’t get “lost”; 3) When you receive the ISP’s response, you can choose either to accept it or respond directly with a rebuttal. The ISP is then required to respond to your rebuttal;3) The primary way to plead your case against your ISP is by having adequate documentation. Save a copy of all emails and letters and consider recording phone calls if that practice is legal within your state. If you’re not able to record your conversations, at least make a note of who you spoke to as well as the time and date.

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