Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Farewell, Ma Bell

Today SBC AT&T turned off the phone service that we've had at our house in San Jose for nearly 10 years. I think this will mark (with a few brief exceptions) the first time in my adult life that I’ve not had telephone service with AT&T — over 30 years' worth.

As a high school phone hacker (not quite a phone phreak), I owned my own phones back before that was allowed. I had service in college (except my first year in a dorm) at UCLA and at MIT, and when I moved back to California permanently after college I turned on service the minute I had an apartment. The only exceptions were a) during a summer spent in Dublin my service was suspended when my apartment-sitter ran up the long distance bill and b) as a newspaper reporter, there were a few months where I couldn’t afford to pay the phone bill until I gave up my 1BR and moved in with someone else.

AT&T's loss was not due to their normal reason. Unlike our teenager — who I expect will have only a personal (mobile) number for her life — our household is keeping a landline.

And it’s not like I’m mad at The Phone Company — as I was at various points during the past 30+ years, even to the point of (in high school) making our own student film called “We Hear You,” a low-budget ripoff of “The President’s Analyst.” (I did special effects and played the bad guy driving my dad's menacing-looking sedan).

Nope, we’re switching (for now at least) to phone service from our cable company, for four reasons. One, it’s cheaper — mainly because US long distance is free. Two, they came up with a clever way to solve the power failure problem (which was highly salient for San Diegans after last fall). Third, our respective parents both have it and since neither of them are technically savvy, it must be pretty seemless.

Finally, it’s not just that it’s replacing AT&T with cable, but which cable company it is. In SoCal we get Cox, an innovative responsive company that did a great job for us (particularly on Internet) when we lived there before. If we were staying in the Bay Area, there’s no way we’d ditch AT&T for Comcast, which has been terrible and is a ruthless monopolist that would make ol’ Ma Bell blush.

So bye-bye, Ma. It’s been good knowin’ ya, and perhaps our paths will cross again.

1 comment:

jason said...

What is the clever way they solved the power failure problem? FIOS installed a big battery that supposedly I'm supposed to replace every so often but in reality haven't looked at once. Do they do the same?