Fussing and fighting with SBC: in a rural Nevada county, the lion finally roars

Fussing and fighting with SBC: in a rural Nevada county, the lion finally roars

Art Brothers

Last May 10th. Caught in bad weather. Found a long straight road. Landed. Don Hull came out. Helped turn the plane around and I moved it to park. We placed timbers on either side of the wheels. Dinner. Put me up for the night. Next morning, goodbye and away.


Don and three neighbors (many miles away) phones are from SBC Nevada Bell. Three years ago they got switched from a ring down to dial. Before, they got charged three bucks operator-assist charge for every call. Now, for another ten bucks/mo. they get internet access via dial up. Their remote is off the Eureka exchange, maybe 25 or so miles away. I dialed to check the speed. Took just over 4 minutes for a reply that indicated it was 12k. We joked about you could eat dinner while a page came up. I wrote Bell’s regulatory guy in Reno and pointed out it was really gutsy of them to charge ten bucks for such turtle speed. They ought to give it away free. No reply yet.


As I’ve mentioned over the past two years, folks in central Nevada have accepted crummy telephone service as the penalty of living-way-to-hell-and-gone out there. I’ve watched rural areas served by the Independent Local Exchange Carriers offer far superior service. But outside of towns, the remote Nevada areas certificated to SBC Nevada Bell believe barbed wire quality is all they will ever have.


Lander County got tired of waiting for upgraded telephones from SBC. Really ticked off. So they asked the state to boot SBC Nevada Bell from 1,000 square miles of county turf. Maybe get somebody using RUS funds to give them decent telephone service? The PUC staff and SBC Nevada Bell objected. Ah, shucks. They suggested that, instead, the county’s idea ought to be tossed. Why, the very idea smacks of … well, it’s awful. And what do those farmers know about quality of service?

District Attorney Allen Gibson got bent. Bell’s motion to dismiss Docket 04-6027 is not appropriate, he says. The law says the respondents have to admit or deny (the county’s) allegations. ‘Cause they didn’t, the county’s allegations ought to be admitted as fact. And he points out, it would be nice if the state followed its own rules. He continued “there was never a realistic attempt at ascertaining the adequacy of service… (in a prior hearing about upgrading their phones by another company). He pointed out that although there was an expectation (a year ago) that a consumer session would be held (in the county), Bell objected. One was never held. With residents hundreds of miles from the hearing location, and farmers with no legal background working their fields during peak harvest time, they were deprived of a manner to make a case about their frustrations over awful non-standard telephone service.

The county pointed out that assertions of non-resident (city folk) not aware of adverse quality of service was because they were ignorant, and so believed there were no problems.

A Nevada state legislative assemblyman for the area, and the chairman of the Lander County Commission, were both denied the right to testify in a prior hearing set to consider wireline phones for the area.


Said the county: It’s difficult to comment on a negative, and perhaps the staff of the PUC should conduct a hearing where the effected residents reside, rather than remain in cozy Carson City more closely identified with those whose services they are purportedly to regulate.

Allen closed by saying the regulatory folk (should have known) there has been atrocious service for years (and) there has been no change in that service.

Way to go. After 40 years the lion is roaring in what is called the “armpit” of Nevada.

Art Brothers (awb@beehive.net) runs Beehive Telephone Co., of Wendover, Utah/Nevada.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Advanstar Communications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group