This week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held its fourth and final public forum to receive public input regarding AT&T’s pending Application to be relieved of its “Carrier of Last Resort” status, which ensures the availability of basic phone service to any residential or business customer. RCRC opposes AT&T’s Application and is a formal party to the proceeding. Affected AT&T customers are traditional, copper-based landline subscribers. This “plain old telephone service” or POTS has a uniform set of minimum service quality standards and regulations that does not extend to newer, alternative technologies such as wireline VoIP or wireless service. If approved by the CPUC, over 580,000 affected AT&T customers would be left with fewer options in terms of choice, quality, and affordability. Rural and remote areas of the state are disproportionately impacted by COLR relief and at greater risk during emergencies without the reliability that legacy, universal service provides.  

Public comments are still being accepted through the proceeding’s docket, see here. The CPUC has not taken action on AT&T’s request and will announce next steps after April 30, 2024, to allow time for the CPUC to notify other carriers of the opportunity to potentially replace AT&T as a COLR. For more information, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate Tracy Rhine or RCRC Policy Advocate Leigh Kammerich