Code Section Group

Public Utilities Code - PUC

DIVISION 1. REGULATION OF PUBLIC UTILITIES [201 - 3297]

  ( Division 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

PART 1. PUBLIC UTILITIES ACT [201 - 2120]

  ( Part 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

CHAPTER 4. Regulation of Public Utilities [701 - 922]

  ( Chapter 4 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

ARTICLE 8. Universal Telephone Service [871 - 884.5]
  ( Article 8 added by Stats. 1987, Ch. 163, Sec. 2. )

871.
  

This article shall be known and may be cited as the Moore Universal Telephone Service Act.

(Added by Stats. 1987, Ch. 163, Sec. 2. Effective July 16, 1987.)

871.5.
  

The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) The offering of high-quality basic telephone service at affordable rates to the greatest number of citizens has been a longstanding goal of the state.

(b) The Moore Universal Telephone Service Act has been, and continues to be, an important means for achieving universal service by making basic telephone service affordable to low-income households through the creation of a lifeline class of service.

(c) Every means should be employed by the commission and telephone corporations to ensure that every household qualified to receive lifeline telephone service is informed of and is afforded the opportunity to subscribe to that service.

(d) The furnishing of lifeline telephone service is in the public interest and should be supported fairly and equitably by every telephone corporation, and the commission, in administering the lifeline telephone service program, should implement the program in a way that is equitable, nondiscriminatory, and without competitive consequences for the telecommunications industry in California.

(Amended by Stats. 2010, Ch. 381, Sec. 2. (AB 2213) Effective January 1, 2011.)

871.7.
  

The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) The Moore Universal Telephone Service Act, enacted in 1987, was intended to offer high quality basic telephone service at affordable rates to the greatest number of California residents, and has become an important means of achieving universal service by making residential service affordable to low-income citizens through the creation of a lifeline class of service.

(b) Factors such as competition and technological innovation are resulting in the convergence of a variety of telecommunications technologies offering an expanded range of telecommunications services to users that incorporate voice, video, and data. These technologies have differing regulatory regimes and jurisdictions.

(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that the commission initiate a proceeding investigating the feasibility of redefining universal telephone service by incorporating two-way voice, video, and data service as components of basic service. It is the Legislature’s further intent that, to the extent that the incorporation is feasible, that it promote equity of access to high-speed communications networks, the Internet, and other services to the extent that those services provide social benefits that include all of the following:

(1) Improving the quality of life among the residents of California.

(2) Expanding access to public and private resources for education, training, and commerce.

(3) Increasing access to public resources enhancing public health and safety.

(4) Assisting in bridging the “digital divide” through expanded access to new technologies by low-income, disabled, or otherwise disadvantaged Californians.

(5) Shifting traffic patterns by enabling telecommuting, thereby helping to improve air quality in all areas of the state and mitigating the need for highway expansion.

(d) For purposes of this section, the term “feasibility” means consistency with all of the following:

(1) Technological and competitive neutrality.

(2) Equitable distribution of the funding burden for redefined universal service as described in subdivision (c), among all affected consumers and industries, thereby ensuring that regulated utilities’ ratepayers do not bear a disproportionate share of funding responsibility.

(3) Benefits that justify the costs.

(Added by Stats. 2000, Ch. 943, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2001.)

872.
  

As used in this article, “household” means a residential dwelling that is the principal place of residence of the lifeline telephone service subscriber, and excludes any industrial, commercial, or other nonresidential building.

(Amended by Stats. 2010, Ch. 381, Sec. 3. (AB 2213) Effective January 1, 2011.)

873.
  

(a) The commission shall annually do all of the following:

(1) Designate a class of lifeline service necessary to meet minimum communications needs.

(2) Set the rates and charges for that service.

(3) Develop eligibility criteria for that service.

(4) Assess the degree of achievement of universal service, including telephone penetration rates by income, ethnicity, and geography.

(b) Minimum communications needs include, but are not limited to, the ability to originate and receive calls and the ability to access electronic information services.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 86, Sec. 265. (SB 1171) Effective January 1, 2017.)

874.
  

The lifeline telephone service rates and charges shall be as follows:

(a) In a residential subscriber’s service area where measured service is not available, the lifeline telephone service rates shall not be more than 50 percent of the rates for basic flat rate service, exclusive of federally mandated end user access charges, available to the residential subscriber.

(b) In a residential subscriber’s service area where measured service is available, the subscriber may elect either of the following:

(1) A lifeline telephone service measured rate of not more than 50 percent of the basic rate for measured service, exclusive of federally mandated end user access charges, available to the residential subscriber.

(2) A lifeline flat rate of not more than 50 percent of the rates for basic flat rate service, exclusive of federally mandated end user access charges, available to the residential subscriber.

(c) The lifeline telephone service installation or connection charge, or both, shall not be more than 50 percent of the charge for basic residential service installation or connection, or both. The commission may limit the number of installation and connection charges, or both, that may be incurred at the reduced rate in any given period.

(d) There shall be no charge to the residential customer who has filed a valid eligibility statement for changing out of lifeline service.

(e) The commission shall assess whether there is a problem with customers who fraudulently obtain lifeline telephone service. If the commission determines that there is a problem, it shall recommend and promulgate appropriate solutions. This assessment and the solutions determined by the commission shall not, in and of themselves, change the procedures developed pursuant to Section 876.

(Amended by Stats. 1999, Ch. 1005, Sec. 53. Effective January 1, 2000.)

875.
  

(a) In addition to Section 874, every lifeline telephone service subscriber shall be given an allowance, reduced by the amount of any credit or allowance authorized by the Federal Communications Commission, equal to the then current or announced federally mandated residential end user access charges.

(b) The commission may, in a separate proceeding, establish procedures necessary to ensure that the lifeline telephone service program qualifies for any federal funds available for the support of those programs.

(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 354, Sec. 5. Effective January 1, 1993.)

876.
  

The commission shall require every telephone corporation providing telephone service within a service area to file a schedule of rates and charges providing a class of lifeline telephone service. Every telephone corporation providing service within a service area shall inform all eligible subscribers of the availability of lifeline telephone service, and how they may qualify for and obtain service, and shall accept applications for lifeline telephone service according to procedures specified by the commission.

(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 354, Sec. 6. Effective January 1, 1993.)

877.
  

Nothing in this article precludes the commission from changing any rate established pursuant to Section 873, either specifically or pursuant to any general restructuring of all telephone rates, charges, and classifications.

(Added by Stats. 1987, Ch. 163, Sec. 2. Effective July 16, 1987.)

878.
  

A lifeline telephone service subscriber shall be provided with one lifeline subscription, as defined by the commission, at his or her principal place of residence, and no other member of that subscriber’s family or household who maintains residence at that place is eligible for lifeline telephone service.

An applicant for lifeline telephone service may report only one address in this state as the principal place of residence.

(Amended by Stats. 2010, Ch. 381, Sec. 5. (AB 2213) Effective January 1, 2011.)

878.5.
  

The commission shall adopt a portability freeze rule for the lifeline program by January 15, 2017. The commission shall consider including all of the following in the rule:

(a) A 60-day duration of the portability freeze.

(b) A period of time when a subscriber would be able to terminate lifeline service without penalty, similar to provisions established in Section 4.13.5 of commission Decision 14-01-036 (January 16, 2014), Decision Adopting Revisions to Modernize and Expand the California Lifeline Program.

(c) A requirement that the administrator of the lifeline program provide a telephone corporation providing lifeline service with real-time information concerning whether a subscriber has enrolled with another telephone corporation during the period of the portability freeze adopted by the commission pursuant to this section and, if the subscriber enrolled during this period, the date of enrollment.

(Added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 577, Sec. 1. (AB 2570) Effective January 1, 2017.)

879.
  

(a) The commission shall, at least annually, initiate a proceeding to set rates for lifeline telephone service. All telephone corporations providing lifeline telephone service shall annually file, on a date set by the commission, proposed lifeline telephone service rates and a statement of projected revenue needs to meet the funding requirements to provide lifeline telephone service to qualified subscribers, together with proposed funding methods to provide the necessary funding. These funding methods shall include identification of those services whose rates shall be adjusted to provide the necessary funding.

(b) The commission shall commence a proceeding within 30 days after the date set for the filings required in subdivision (a), giving interested parties an opportunity to comment on the proposed rates and funding requirements and the proposed funding methods. The commission may change the rates, funding requirements, and funding methods proposed by the telephone corporations in any manner necessary, including reasonably spreading the funding among the services offered by the telephone corporations, to meet the public interest. Within 60 days of the annual filing, the commission shall issue an order setting lifeline telephone service rates and funding methods for each telephone corporation making a filing as required in subdivision (a). The commission may establish a lifeline service pool composed of the rate adjustments and surcharges imposed by the commission pursuant to this section for the purpose of funding lifeline telephone service.

(c) Any order issued by the commission pursuant to this section shall require telephone corporations providing lifeline telephone service to apply the funding requirement in the form of a surcharge to service rates which may be separately identified on the bills of customers using those services. The commission shall not allow any surcharge under this section on the rates charged by those telephone corporations for lifeline telephone service.

(d) The commission shall permit telephone corporations operating between service areas to adjust the rates of any service which may be affected by any surcharge imposed by this section.

(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 354, Sec. 8. Effective January 1, 1993.)

879.5.
  

Notwithstanding Section 879, the commission shall issue its initial order adopting required rates and funding requirements not later than October 31, 1987, and prior to the issuance of that order, may fund lifeline telephone service through the use of an interim surcharge on service rates for telephone service provided by telephone corporations operating between service areas. The interim surcharge shall not exceed 4 percent of the service rates.

(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 354, Sec. 9. Effective January 1, 1993.)

880.
  

The commission may determine any question of fact in its administration of this article.

(Added by Stats. 1987, Ch. 163, Sec. 2. Effective July 16, 1987.)

882.
  

(a) The Public Utilities Commission shall, as soon as practicable, open a proceeding or proceedings to, or as part of existing proceedings shall, consider ways to ensure that advanced telecommunications services are made available as ubiquitously and economically as possible, in a timely fashion, to California’s citizens, institutions, and businesses. The proceeding or proceedings should be completed within one year of commencement.

(b) The proceeding or proceedings shall develop rules, procedures, orders, or strategies, or all of these, that seek to achieve the following goals:

(1) To provide all citizens and businesses with access to the widest possible array of advanced communications services.

(2) To provide the state’s educational and health care institutions with access to advanced communications services.

(3) To ensure cost-effective deployment of technology so as to protect ratepayers’ interests and the affordability of telecommunications services.

(c) In the proceeding or proceedings, the commission should also consider, but need not limit its consideration to, all of the following:

(1) Whether the definition of universal service should be broadened.

(2) How to encourage the timely and economic development of an advanced public communications infrastructure, which may include a variety of competitive providers.

(Amended by Stats. 1999, Ch. 1005, Sec. 54. Effective January 1, 2000.)

883.
  

(a) The commission shall, on or before February 1, 2001, issue an order initiating an investigation and opening a proceeding to examine the current and future definitions of universal service. That proceeding shall include public hearings that encourage participation by a broad and diverse range of interests from all areas of the state, including, but not limited to, all of the following:

(1) Consumer groups.

(2) Communication service providers, including all providers of high-speed access services.

(3) Facilities-based telephone providers.

(4) Information service providers and Internet access providers.

(5) Rural and urban users.

(6) Public interest groups.

(7) Representatives of small and large businesses and industry.

(8) Local agencies.

(9) State agencies, including, but not limited to, all of the following:

(A) The Government Operations Agency.

(B) The State Department of Education.

(C) The State Department of Public Health.

(D) The California State Library.

(10) Colleges and universities.

(b) The objectives of the proceeding set forth in subdivision (a) shall include all of the following:

(1) To investigate the feasibility of redefining universal service in light of current trends toward accelerated convergence of voice, video, and data, with an emphasis on the role of basic telecommunications and Internet services in the workplace, in education and workforce training, access to health care, and increased public safety.

(2) To evaluate the extent to which technological changes have reduced the relevance of existing regulatory regimes given their current segmentation based upon technology.

(3) To receive broad-based input from a cross section of interested parties and make recommendations on whether video, data, and Internet service providers should be incorporated into an enhanced Universal Lifeline Service program, as specified, including relevant policy recommendations regarding regulatory and statutory changes and funding options that are consistent with the principles set forth in subdivision (c) of Section 871.7.

(4) To reevaluate prior definitions of basic service in a manner that will, to the extent feasible, effectively incorporate the latest technologies to provide all California residents with all of the following:

(A) Improved quality of life.

(B) Expanded access to public and private resources for education, training, and commerce.

(C) Increased access to public resources enhancing public health and safety.

(D) Assistance in bridging the “digital divide” through expanded access to new technologies by low income, disabled, or otherwise disadvantaged Californians.

(5) To assess projected costs of providing enhanced universal lifeline service in accordance with the intent of this article, and to delineate the subsidy support needed to maintain the redefined scope of universal service in a competitive market.

(6) To design and recommend an equitable and broad-based subsidy support mechanism for universal service in competitive markets in a manner that conforms with subdivision (c) of Section 871.7.

(7) To develop a process to periodically review and revise the definition of universal service to reflect new technologies and markets consistent with subdivision (c) of Section 871.7.

(8) To consider whether similar regulatory treatment for the provision of similar services is appropriate and feasible.

(c) In conducting its investigation, the commission shall take into account the role played by a number of diverse but convergent industries and providers, even though many of these entities are not subject to economic regulation by the commission or any other government entity.

(d) The recommendations of the commission shall be consistent with state policies for telecommunications as set forth in Section 709, and with all of the following principles:

(1) Universal service shall, to the extent feasible, be provided at affordable prices regardless of linguistic, cultural, ethnic, physical, financial, and geographic considerations.

(2) Consumers shall be provided access to all information needed to allow timely and informed choices about telecommunications products and services that are part of the universal service program and how best to use them.

(3) Education, health care, community, and government institutions shall be positioned as early recipients of new and emerging technologies so as to maximize the economic and social benefits of these services.

(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 425, Sec. 5. (SB 385) Effective January 1, 2018.)

884.
  

(a) It is the intent of the Legislature that any program administered by the commission that addresses the inequality of access to high-speed broadband services by providing those services to schools and libraries at a discounted price, provide comparable discounts to a nonprofit community technology program.

(b) Notwithstanding any other law or existing program of the commission, but consistent with the purposes for which those funds were appropriated from the California Teleconnect Fund Administrative Committee Fund in Item 8660-001-0493 of Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2003 (Chapter 157 of the Statutes of 2003), and reappropriated in Item 8660-491 of Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2006 (Chapter 47 of the Statutes of 2006), the commission may expend up to two million dollars ($2,000,000) of the unencumbered amount of those funds for the nonrecurring installation costs for high-speed broadband services for community organizations that are eligible for discounted rates pursuant to Section 280.

(c) For the purpose of this section:

(1) “High-speed broadband services” means a system for the digital transmission of information over the Internet at a speed of at least 384 kilobits per second.

(2) “Nonprofit community technology program” means a community-based nonprofit organization that is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and engages in diffusing technology into local communities and training local communities that have no access to, or have limited access to, the Internet and advanced telecommunications technologies.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 870, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

884.5.
  

(a) This section shall apply to all customers eligible to receive discounts for telecommunications services under the federal Universal Service E-rate program administered by the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company that also apply for discounts on telecommunications services provided through the California Teleconnect Fund Administrative Committee Fund program pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 280.

(b) A teleconnect discount shall be applied after applying an E-rate discount. The commission shall first apply an E-rate discount, regardless of whether the customer has applied for an E-rate discount or has been approved, if the customer, in the determination of the commission, meets the eligibility requirements for an E-rate discount.

(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), the teleconnect discount shall be applied without regard to an E-rate discount for a school district that meets the conditions specified for compensation pursuant to Article 4 (commencing with Section 42280) of Chapter 7 of Part 24 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Education Code, unless that school district has applied for, and been approved to receive, the E-rate discount.

(d) In establishing a discount under the California Teleconnect Fund Administrative Committee Fund program, the commission shall give priority to bridging the “digital divide” by encouraging expanded access to state-of-the-art technologies for rural, inner-city, low-income, and disabled Californians.

(e) As used in this section:

(1) “E-rate discount” means an actual discount under the E-rate program, or a representative discount figure as determined by the commission.

(2) “E-rate program” means the federal Universal Service E-rate program administered by the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company.

(3) “Teleconnect discount” means a discount on telecommunications services provided through the California Teleconnect Fund Administrative Committee Fund program set forth in subdivision (a) of Section 280.

(Amended by Stats. 2008, Ch. 179, Sec. 195. Effective January 1, 2009.)

PUCPublic Utilities Code - PUC8