Marin County therapist fearful about way forward for her enterprise if AT&T drops landlines

MARIN COUNTY — As AT&T seeks to phase out landlines in California, people living in remote areas are worried about getting cut off, including a Marin County therapist who is worried her business will not survive.

Small but mighty, that’s how Gina Catania describes her landline.

When the San Rafael-based therapist found out AT&T is considering removing landline services in California, her immediate reaction was fear.

“I felt frightened and doomed because my whole business depends upon my landline,” she said.

While Catania does meet with some patients in person, the majority of her sessions are via telephone. She can’t rely on cellular service in the area because it is never consistent, she says.

“I work with at-risk patients, I’m a trauma therapist, so I work with patients that have to have her sessions,” she explained.

Taking the risk of using a cell phone, can be far too dangerous, both for security purposes and for the sake of ensuring a proper connection. She says even having a voice over IP line doesn’t work for her either because of internet connection issues.

“I can’t get a modem because the way the offices are cut up. We can’t have different modems in the different spaces. So, my landline is everything.”

She says it is the critical connection point that enables her to provide consistent care for the patients she passionately serves.

When asked what she would do if AT&T did proceed with removing landlines in the area, she stated:

“I have no idea and that really scares me. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m just praying they don’t stop the service, or maybe somebody else takes the service, or something. Because I have no plan b.”

Catania has been participating in community meetings with the California Public Utilities Commission in hopes that her concerns will be heard.

AT&T says fewer than 7% of Californians use landlines. The company said if it gets the green light, they promise to make sure there are good alternatives for customers.

“We are going to continue to provide existing voice service, as long as it’s needed,” Tedi Vriheas, vice president of external affairs at AT&T California, told CBS News Bay Area. “And that is particularly in those areas where there may only be AT&T landline service available to a customer.”

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