May 11, 2024
  • Redwood City – San Mateo County officials hailed the proposed decision issued Friday by a California Public Utilities Commission Administrative Law Judge to reject a proposal by AT&T that that judge says could threaten vulnerable residents during wildfires and other emergencies.

    “I am pleased that the California Public Utilities Commission’s Administrative Law Judge rejected AT&T’s dangerous application to be relieved of its obligation to provide basic network telephone service to any customer requesting it because there is no other company willing to provide that service to everyone,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller, who has led the County’s efforts to fight AT&T’s bid.

    “We will continue to advocate for all San Mateo County residents’ ability to choose landline service so that they can communicate when cellular service is unavailable, unreliable or down, especially in cases of emergency,” Mueller said.  “I have faith and hope that the California Public Utilities Commission will see the issue the same way and adopt the proposed decision of its Judge.

    “We are grateful to our County professional team, federal and state legislative delegations for their support in this matter, and especially Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who has worked with my office and other counties across multiple fronts to address this issue.”

    Congresswoman Eshoo said, “I applaud the California Public Utilities Commission’s decision to deny AT&T California’s request to no longer meet its obligations as the carrier of last resort. Many of my constituents live in remote, hard to access areas where cell service and internet access is spotty, unreliable, and in some cases, completely unavailable. Many others are elderly and retired, living on fixed incomes. They rely on their landline service for all their communications. Maintaining carrier of last resort status ensures every Californian has access to reliable and affordable communications no matter where they live. This decision is a victory for them.”

    In March, San Mateo County supervisors voted 5-0 to oppose AT&T’s request to withdraw as a “Carrier of Last Resort,” which  requires it provide access to basic telephone service to anyone in its service territory who requests it. Mueller traveled to Indio (Riverside County) to speak in front of the CPUC and its Administrative Law Judge  in opposition to AT&T’s application

    If AT&T is relieved of its Carrier of Last Resort obligations, residents could lose free access to 911 and telephone relay service (for people with speech or hearing issues), according to the resolution supervisors approved. AT&T’s request to drop landline service covers nearly all of San Mateo County, according to a map posted on the CPUC’s website.

    In a proposed decision issued Friday, a CPUC administrative law judge seemed to agree, suggesting to the CPUC that it find “AT&T did not meet the requirements for (Carrier of Last Resort) withdrawal. Specifically, AT&T failed to demonstrate the availability of replacement providers willing and able to serve as COLR, nor did AT&T prove that alternative providers met the COLR definition,” according to a summary of the proposed decision.

    The CPUC will consider whether to accept the administrative law judge’s proposed decision at its June 20, 2024, meeting.

    The public can continue to comment on the issue.

    The CPUC has received more than 5,000 public comments and held virtual public forums across the state, which have drawn more than 5,800 attendees.

    Media Contact

    Office of Supervisor Ray Mueller