Coalition forms to defend universal phone service and defeat SB 1161
For Immediate Release from TURN, The Utility Reform Network
Wednesday, April 11, 2011, Sacramento—Phone-company sponsored SB 1161 (Padilla) would allow AT&T and Verizon to renege on universal service obligations, raise rates and eliminate basic consumer protections. Similar legislation in other states has been followed by dramatic price hikes and deteriorating service.
A coalition has quickly formed to stop the same from happening in California, where millions could lose service if phone deregulation becomes law. Without regulation, monopoly phone companies would be free to price out customers they don’t find profitable enough, and run roughshod over consumer rights, with no fear of fines or sanctions. Consumers with complaints about their phone service or phone bill would literally have nowhere to turn.
“With technological advances in phone service coming fast and furious, the California PUC must have the latitude and authority to insure quality of service, and the availability of reliable telephone service to every consumer in the state,” said Jim Weitkamp, Vice President, Communications Workers of America (CWA).
“SB 1161 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said TURN executive director Mark Toney. “While masquerading as legislation with limited application to VOIP only, in reality SB 1161 would mean the end of regulatory oversight over large monopoly phone companies. Consumers would be left utterly defenseless.”
The proposed legislation is part of an expensive phone company lobbying effort to dismantle consumer protections state-by-state, which has often resulted in higher bills when it has been successful. Advocates intend to draw a line in the sand in California.
California Coalition for Universal Phone Service
Consumer & Labor Organizations
Child/Family Support Projects
Small Business Community
Media Access Projects
Rural Community Advocates