California CWA Members Beat Back Telecom Deregulation Bill

CWA members in District 9 successfully mobilized along with The Utility Reform Network (TURN), AARP, and other consumer protection groups to defeat in the California Senate AB 1366, a bill that would have extended a harmful deregulation bill pushed through by telecommunications companies in 2012 that has tied the hands of state regulators ever since. CWA members held several lobby days, organized email campaigns, and showed up in large numbers to every committee hearing that was held to make their voices heard.

The 2012 bill weakened regulations by preventing the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) or any state entity from acting on consumer complaints about VoIP telephone service, and rolled back other consumer protections for those using traditional landline services. The majority of California home phone users have been moved to VoIP home phone service from their traditional landlines, with some carriers actively pushing consumers towards VoIP.

The 2012 bill established that unregulated providers of VoIP were not required to follow the limited, reasonable service quality standards that traditional telephone service carriers must adhere to. These providers have had no oversight when it comes to service installation wait times, whether they keep commitments to install new service, and how long it takes the company to answer their phone when a customer calls.

Thanks to the defeat of AB 1366, the 2012 bill will sunset on January 1, 2020.