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.
“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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)