According to AT&T's request, the company must complete the Section 214 Withdrawal Process managed by the Federal Communications Commission to completely interrupt service in a given area.
CPUC said in a summary of the situation that “AT&T is the designated COLR in many areas of the state and is the largest COLR in California.” This means that “the company must provide traditional landline telephone service to any potential customer in that service territory.” AT&T is proposing to withdraw from the role of COLR in your area without a new carrier being designated as COLR.
“If AT&T's proposal were accepted as outlined in its application, then no COLR would be required to provide basic service in your area,” the state agency said. “This does not necessarily mean that no carrier would provide service in your area, just that they would not be required to do so. Other outcomes are possible, such as a carrier other than AT&T volunteering to become the COLR in your area, or the CPUC refusing AT&T's proposal.
AT&T has been deregulated in many states
AT&T's wireline service territory includes 21 states. AT&T's California application indicates that it has already received at least some relief from carrier of last resort obligations in the other 20 states, namely Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
In addition to its COLR request, AT&T has asked California to allow it to waive its Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) designation. The ETC designation allows AT&T to receive money from the U.S. government's Universal Service Fund, including the federal Lifeline program. AT&T would still be eligible for the State of California's Lifeline program.
“By relinquishing its ETC designation, AT&T will no longer be eligible for federal support to provide Lifeline, which could potentially impact all current AT&T Lifeline customers… For a household benefiting from AT&T's federal Lifeline program, the bill could increase by $5.25 per month for voice-only service, or $9.25 per month for bundled or Internet service,” the CPUC said. “In addition to these amounts, a household living on tribal lands with an AT&T Federal Lifeline could see an additional increase of $25 per month.”
AT&T complains about having to maintain two networks
For its application to be approved, “AT&T must demonstrate that another ETC provider can provide universal support in areas where AT&T wishes to relinquish its ETC designation,” the CPUC said.
AT&T argued in its application that it was only seeking to “make modest regulatory reforms” to provide “tailored relief from its outdated COLR obligation.” The COLR obligation requires AT&T “to unnecessarily operate and maintain two duplicate networks: one, an outdated narrowband network with a steadily shrinking subscriber base, and the other, a fiber broadband network and forward-looking wireless,” the company said. .
AT&T has complained that Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon and T-Mobile don't face the same obligation. Due to the COLR requirement, “AT&T California must continue to respond to all requests to extend an outdated voice network to anyone, anywhere within its perimeter, even in cases where the customer has access to a modern alternative ” AT&T said.