Dear Consumer Champions, We did it!

We did it!  With your help David has prevailed against Goliath again!

Thanks to you, and thousands of others consumer across the state, AB 2395, AT&T’s bid to get rid of copper landlines, failed in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 27. This was a hard-fought battle, with AT&T spending over a million dollars on lobbying. Your voices were heard loud and clear when we delivered over 3,000 TURN member letters to your representatives.

We owe special thanks to the California Assembly leaders with the extraordinary courage to stand up to AT&T, especially Appropriations Chair Lorena Gonzalez and Speaker Anthony Rendon, who helped us to put a stop to AB 2395 early in the process, and to Assembly Members Brian Dahle, Roger Hernández, and Mark Stone for voting no on AB 2395 at the Utilities Committee hearing on April 13.

While I don’t have enough room to name everybody who deserves credit, I want to give a special thanks to the following people, who were critical to winning this stunning victory!

  • Tom Runnion, Liz Sorenson, and everybody at Communications Workers of America District 9 who lobbied tirelessly and turned out hundreds of concerned and articulate members to speak out at committee hearings.
  • Angie Wei, Mitch Seaman, and the rest of the crew at the California Labor Federation for making phone and broadband access a top priority for labor.
  • Trish Steel of Mendocino Broadband Alliance for organizing letters from counties, public safety officials, and businesses throughout Northern California.
  • Michael Nichols of Access Sonoma Broadband who mobilized support from elected officials, and local activists in rural California.
  • Regina Costa, our telecom research director, who analyzed the bill and amendments, developed fact sheets and drove hundreds of miles to meet with lawmakers and testify at committee hearings.
  • Ignacio Hernandez and the crew at Hernandez Strategy Group who spent countless hours walking the halls of the capitol, and talking to legislators, staff, media and allies.
  • Mindy Spatt, our communications director, whose media advocacy generated coverage of AB 2395 in print, radio and television reports throughout California.
  • TURN member Ruthanne Shpiner, who graciously agreed to be interviewed by KPIX TV on why she chooses copper landline phone service.

Our copper landlines are safe for now, but we must remain vigilant.   This bill could reemerge next year, and we don’t know what dirty tricks AT&T may still have up its sleeve.

That is why we are launching the Phones That Work Everywhere, All the Time campaign. The FCC recently issued an order requiring that new telecommunication networks provide a level of network performance, including coverage and reliability, accessible 911, disabled access and compatibility with home security systems, medical monitoring, credit card readers and fax machines—that is unchanged from the legacy phone systems they replace.

We want California legislators and regulators to use the FCC order as a floor—and to close any loopholes—to ensure that new telecommunications technologies work everywhere, all the time, for all Californians.

With your support, we’re going to demand that consumer protections are modernized along with the phone system. You can depend on us to keep fighting to:

  • Preserve access to 911 for every household and business, especially in rural communities and during power outages.
  • Protect broadband access for over 4 million Californians that now rely on copper-based DSL to connect to the Internet.
  • Protect people with disabilities who depend on landlines for life alerts, heart monitoring, TTY and unlimited toll-free access for public services.
  • Preserve the ability of small businesses to use phone lines for credit card transactions and security alarm systems.
  • Protect the CPUC’s authority to require LifeLine discounts for low-income families, and minimum standards for call quality, network reliability and consumer protection.

Californians have a right to universal phone service. We’re going to do our best to make sure AT&T doesn’t take that right away.