Wireless companies address phone outages during PG&E power shutoffs


SACRAMENTO (KRON) — Wireless companies are vowing to step up as California regulators put them under a microscope following several rounds of public safety power shutoffs. 

Leaders of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile each recently acknowledged and addressed cellular service outages as a result of October’s blackouts and a limited amount of backup power. 

In a letter, AT&T President Rhonda Johnson wrote, “AT&T considers serving California a privilege and a responsibility.” 

The company told regulators it plans to make sure all new cell sites in California have a fixed generator where possible and will aim to retrofit existing sites in fire prone areas with backup power solutions. 

T-Mobile says it plans to purchase more mobile generators in 2020 that will be based in California. 

Sprint says it plans to add more cell sites to provide more service area overlap. 

The companies say they want to work together and with the state to come up with the best policy for backup power for prolonged periods of time. 

State emergency management officials have also scrutinized companies for not being forthcoming with outage information. 

Verizon told regulators it will start making that information available not only to emergency management, but also to the public, so customers can compare how verizon performs versus the rest of the industry. 

Consumer advocates say while the will to make changes are important, it’s up to state policy makers to ensure that change happens. 

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