LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Recent heavy rainfall in Southern California damaged AT&T’s phone system to the point of creating a “natural disaster,” leaving residential and business customers throughout the region without a dial tone, an company spokeswoman said Monday.

KNX 1070’s Chris Sedens Reports

“We have technicians out there, working around the clock to restore service,” AT&T spokeswoman Debbie Rapoport said.

“This is a natural disaster,” Rapoport said. “The torrential rains have caused interruptions to residential voice telephone service and everything else.”

AT&T is the principal local exchange carrier in a number of areas, competing only with voice-over-Internet-protocol services such as Vonage.

John Davies with Verizon California said a “significant number” of storm-related repair calls had come in, and the company had crews “working night and day” to restore phone service.

“The calls are fairly evenly distributed across our service area,” Davies said. “There are pockets of customers here and there with connectivity issues.”

He predicted it would take about two weeks to fix all the storm-related problems.

According to Rapoport, many AT&T customers have lost voice and DSL access, preventing any communication — except by mobile phone.

She could not estimate the backlog of calls for repairs or how long it might take to clear it.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (19)
  1. Rob says:

    The article Heavy Rain Triggers Massive Phone Outage by Chris Sedens is missing the where and how many affected. He also seems to know little about telephone service. In almost all of Verizon and AT&T’s service areas the Local Cable company competes in offering telephone service. Internet telephone service would be equally affected if the subscriber used their Cable or Internet company’s lines for Internet telephony. Basically Mr. Sedens told us nothing. As an aside I have seen nothing mentioned on TV news or in Local newspapers about a general outage of telephone or Internet service following our recent rains. Maybe Mr. Sedens was affected by the the sky is falling complaint.

  2. Harriet says:

    No Rob … This is not a fantasy. My service has been out since Dec 19. The latest estimate of fix is Jan 15. I just registered a complaint with the FCC. Last week the technicians working at the end of the street estimated 250 customers were out of service – but my neighbors have been continuing to lose service (including some on this past Saturday). I think AT&T has just witnessed the result of ignoring fixing infrastructure – and we may be down for the long haul.

  3. Nophonebilly says:

    This is not a joke. Here in Culver City we’ve had snowy crackle in place of a dial tone since the 24th. AT&T said they would send someone to look at it on January8th. Nice. They’re behaving like a Soviet style monopoly.

  4. Betty says:

    I guess I should not complaint then. My appointment is Jan. 1st. Wow. Now I can say, I am lucky… Whohooo.

  5. David Meagher says:

    Large areas of Los Feliz and Silver Lake have been without service since before Christmas. I better be getting a statement credit! Plus how is one supposed to dial 911? I think AT&T has some explaining to do!

  6. august says:

    We are in Huntington Beach and have been down since the 19th. Verizon continues to cite dangerous weather in our area though it has been sunny since the storm ended last Tuesday.
    They have done an amazing job of keeping this quiet and providing no eta. Our entire business is down due to no Internet or phones.
    This is clearly a larger infrastructure problem and not just related to rain. It has rained in California before…

  7. Dormilona says:

    I have landline and DSL service with AT&T. Both went out for hours yesterday/ When I called AT&T, I was given a Jan. 12 repair date. Miraculously DSL and phone suddenly began working again, but now phone number that rings in my house belongs to some guy named Paul, and when people call my number, it rings at his house.

  8. Susan Perry says:

    Some on my block in Silver Lake have been enduring an outage for a week and a half now (my own phone went down suddenly 3 days ago). Their call forwarding service (for those who have been paying for it as part of a package with call waiting) is VERY helpful. Learning to depend on our cell phones (though reception isn’t perfect indoors). Repeated calls and online trouble reports haven’t helped.

  9. Libby says:

    My landline and DSL have been out since Dec. 19 as well here in Silverlake. I was given a Jan. 17 date for repair completion. I thought they were kidding. I also had to beg for my credit.

  10. Jan says:

    I am puzzled by the serious lack of media attention to this problem – does AT&T own them all or something? Our phones went out on the 18th, I called repair, someone came out on the 20th, but I got an earful about what a lousy company AT&T is and how they no longer maintain lines, etc., and nothing was done – they were going to have to send a “special crew”, something to do with these new U-Verse cable lines and who can and can’t touch them (ridiculous). Because there’s elderly and handicapped in the home, it is crucial we have a working land line for emergencies, and they had us on ‘escalation’ for medical reasons. I was told something different every time I called (which was almost every day). Someone finally showed up on Jan. 2, late afternoon, and he restored our service.

    They kept saying they were in “state of emergency” mode, but it doesn’t look as if they’re very well prepared for any sort of emergency. They not only didn’t have enough crews to do the work, their dispatch was scattered and NONE of the customer service reps on the phone lines had a clue as to how to handle the situation. What if there were a true emergency?

    I contacted the CPUC today to see if I should bother filing a complaint and was told I absolutely should – apparently a lot of people are doing just that. So I’m recommending to anyone who has phone outage and had to wait longer than 2 days to get phones restored and/or has been given a run-around by their customer service reps to do the same!

    1. Susan Andres says:

      Jan. I too have wondered about the almost total lack of media coverage. Now I know why activists refer to the mass media as the “corporate media.” My phone line is still crossed with a line that belongs to a man I don’t know. When my doctor (whom I’ve authorized to leave voice mail messages) called to report the results of a blood test, this total stranger got the message! When the stranger called AT&T to complain about the crossed lines, he was told my phone was the problem! I will follow up with CPUC. Thank you for that suggestion.

  11. j. riddler says:

    I am in Fontucky (Fontana). Both my land line and DSL went out yesterday. I reported to the public utilities commission and they routed my call to an executive support office where I got a bureucrat telling me that the issues were due to the California emergency. I asked what the problem was and he would not say. He also would not say how many outages there are or how many technicians are fielding the repair calls. He said he would not discuss details with me and that the estimate for repair of my outage is Jan 22nd. The public utilities commission itself is going with the cop out excuse of emergency. The real problem is inadequate infrastructure. Pressure the public utilities commission to audit the situation and why telecommunications infrastructure was so vulnerable to water.

  12. dorothy Weintraub says:

    I am in the Los Felz area and run a small business out of my home. My service went out on Dec 22 and returned on Dec 28 only to have my local AT&T number stable. Unfortunate my T1 data line – vital to conductiing my business both over the internet and utilizing my VOIP phone system as contracted through Covad over those same ATT lines went down again on Dec 31 and is still down. I’m being lied to by ATT, By Covad, Att whle originally stating “force Majeure until Jan 5 is now telling Covad it’s still in effect. I have now lost my single largest business client and after 30years of building my business am probably now facing bankrupcy all thanks to ATT who in their greed for money have sorely neglected preserving the infrastructure at the expense of trying to sell new product. Most glaringly – by direct sales piitch to switch to U-Verse during the so-called ATT declared Force Majeure.
    Nobody is doind anything about it and this is a disgrace!

  13. Gary Sjogren says:

    My telephone has not worked since Christmas eve. I reported the problem to Verizon on Dec. 27, but was told the first time someone could check the connection was Jan. 17. I know lots of people had storm damage to wires, but that’s THREE WEEKS!!!! I have no dial-tone, no internet, and only sporadic e-mail. They will credit the down-time, but not from Dec. 24, only from when I reported the problem. I’ve had to use my cell phone to suffer long waits on their perverse phone menu system, but they refuse to credit that expense. Can’t they put more people on to fix all the problems, or does their “service” just involve collecting our money?
    Gary in La Mirada

  14. p gibford says:

    our service by verizon in apple valley, ca has been out since Dec 27, called repair and was given a date of Jan 3rd. they did not show up and phone is still shorting out.

  15. Christina says:

    I live in Fontana and I’ve been having the same problems,I live by baseline.I called 3xS and hopefully they fixed it..I’m so frustrated!no cell phone to call anyone..what if I had to call 911,the tech came by right now said he found the problem..let’s see how long it will last

  16. YODA says:


  17. Karen says:

    There was a time when the news was our source for investigation and was better than law enforcement. Seems those days are behind us. Pay attention to who advertises on their television programs, radio stations and the internet etc…, I’m legally fighting against an illegal forclosure sale of my home. My phone went down in December. I am disabled, no 911 for emergency and no way to communicate with my attorney regarding a negotiation had been offered by the lender. Come on news groups we trusted and need you with all that we are being taken advantage of, get with the old ways.

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