United to Oppose SB 1161, AT&T’s CA Deregulation Bill

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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

  • Communications Workers of America
  • AARP
  • Consumer Federation of California
  • Consumers Union
  • Cal PIRG
  • Public Citizen
  • Utility Consumers Action Network
  • The Utility Reform Network

Faith–Based Communities

  • Congregations Organized for Prophetic
  • Engagement
  • African American Lutheran Association
  • Allen Chapel African Methodist
  • Episcopal Church
  • Faith Temple Apostolic Church
  • Inland Congregations United for
  • Change
  • Inland Empire Concerned African
  • American Churches
  • Imani Temple Church

Child/Family Support Projects

  • Centro la Familia
  • BLU Educational Services
  • Knotts Family Agency
  • Parents and Communities Engaged for
  • Education
  • Talented & Gifted in the Inland Empire
  • Young Visionaries
  • Lighthouse Learning Resource Center

Small Business Community

  • Greenlining Institute
  • Asian American Business Woman’s
  • Association
  • Anew America Community Corporation

Underserved Communities

  • Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur
  • de California
  • Hmong American Political Association
  • Center for Accessible Technology
  • West Angeles Community Development
  • Corporation
  • LIFETIME
  • Public Counsel
  • Central City SRO Collaborative
  • Tenderloin Neighborhood Development
  • Tenderloin Housing Clinic
  • Brightline Defense Project

Media Access Projects

  • National Hispanic Media Coalition
  • Broadband Institute of California
  • California Broadband Policy Group
  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
  • Center for Media Justice
  • Free Press
  • Davis Media Access
  • Media Alliance

Rural Community Advocates

  • Center for Rural Strategies
  • Access Humboldt
  • Mendocino County Board of
  • Supervisors