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CPUC Seeks Comment on LifeLine Support Changes

The California Public Utilities Commission seeks comment on a staff proposal setting state LifeLine specific support amounts (SSA) and minimum service standards (MSS), Administrative Law Judge Stephanie Wang said Monday. File comments by Dec. 6 and replies by Jan. 9,…

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the ALJ ruled. The Oct. 30 staff proposal would provide an SSA up to $20.75, increase the wireless broadband allowance MSS to 25 GB from 5 GB, and increase the wireline broadband speed MSS to 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload from 25/3 Mbps currently. For wireless, staff proposed a “dynamic approach” in which a Lifeline participant would move between two tiers “automatically based on their monthly data consumption without need for action.” Tier 1 would give 5 GB of data with a fixed SSA of up to $10.75, while Tier 2 would provide 25 GB of data and 10 GB hot spot data with a fixed subsidy of up to $20.75. "Staff set the subsidy at $20.75 so that when combined with the $9.25 federal LifeLine subsidy, California LifeLine participants are eligible for a total subsidy of $30 as with the ACP plan,” it said. "Service providers may not throttle speeds … except in accordance with reasonable network management practices, such as during an emergency where first responders require priority above other customers.” For wireline, staff proposed setting a voice-only tier SSA that would equal the lesser of $20.75 or 55% of a wireline service provider’s combined rate and end user common line charge. "The SSA floor would be $10.75 so that service providers with lower basic residential rates will provide and market robust offerings to CA LifeLine participants." For a second tier bundling voice and broadband, staff proposed a fixed $20.75 SSA. Staff said MSS for a foster youth program would generally be the same as proposed for the regular LifeLine wireless program. But since foster youth under 18 are ineligible for federal Lifeline support, staff proposes having California Lifeline make up the difference, "assuming that the amount is equal to or less than the current $9.25,” it said. Also, while the main program unsubscribes participants after they don't use it for 45 days, the foster program would switch participants to an "emergency service access plan" with 3 GB of wireless data and unlimited voice and text. Service providers would get a $10 monthly subsidy for each person on the emergency plan, it said. No co-pays would be required from foster youth.