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CPUC Hears from Congress on Possible AT&T COLR Relief

AT&T’s California application for relief of carrier of last resort (COLR) obligations attracted interest from Congress last week. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., raised concerns about the request in a Wednesday letter to California Public Utilities Commission President Alice Reynolds. Schiff…

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wrote "the withdrawal of AT&T landlines will not only harm consumer choice but also pose safety issues in California.” In fires, earthquakes and other natural disasters, “our landlines become the most dependable form of communication,” he added. “While wireless connection is unreliable and cell phones can run out of battery, copper landlines have stronger receptions during power outages.” Schiff cited Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) data that more than 580,000 affected AT&T customers would be left with few options. “AT&T’s proposed withdrawal would harm rural residents disproportionately and the CPUC should weigh this factor heavily in its review of their application to end their COLR obligation,” Schiff wrote. Others from Capitol Hill could weigh in on the CPUC proceeding (docket A.23-03-003). RCRC saw “a lot of interest in this subject” when its delegation visited congressional offices earlier this month, Senior Legislative Advocate Tracy Rhine told us Thursday. Yet an AT&T spokesperson said Friday it will not leave customers behind, though millions have already moved to wireless and high-speed internet services. “We’re working with the remaining consumers who use traditional copper-based phone service to upgrade to newer technologies from us or other providers, so everyone will still be able to make their most important life connections.”