Update: On May 102024, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a proposal rejecting AT&T’s request to withdraw as a carrier of last resort (COLR) and indicating that the CPUC intends to initiate a new Rulemaking process to address COLR telecommunications service obligations. The proposal will be on the CPUC’s June 20 Voting Meeting agenda. You can read more about CPUC’s proposed decision HERE.


California telecommunications policy includes an ongoing commitment to universal service by assuring the continued affordability and widespread availability of high-quality telecommunications services. The CPUC has deemed Carrier of Last Resort (COLR) obligations an important component of universal access to communications services because these obligations ensure that customers who want service, receive it.

In March of 2023, AT&T filed for permission to abandon its obligation to offer phone service to anyone who requests it in its service territory, impacting approximately 29.5 million Californians and over 500,000 traditional landline customers with no guarantee of phone service.  AT&T has failed to identify a replacement carrier of last resort and no equivalent pathway to guarantee universal service in its place.  If AT&T’s application is granted, the decision would mostly serve to harm our most vulnerable populations, including low-income customers who participate in the LifeLine program which provides discounted home phone and cell phone services to qualified households and those who participate in the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program which provides communications equipment and services to persons with disabilities.



The CPUC should dismiss AT&T’s Application with prejudice. In addition to our motion to dismiss AT&T’s application, our office has also asked the CPUC to consider the following:

  • Require AT&T to cure all chronic service quality issues prior to any grant to relinquish carrier of last resort obligations.
  • Require AT&T to develop and provide a migration plan to assist impacted customers in transitioning to a new provider if a new carrier of last resort is designated.
  • Assess the environment impact of AT&T’s 200,000 miles of lead-sheathed copper cables in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act and the CPUC’s Environmental Social Justice Plan to determine whether a new carrier of last resort would incur legal liability.
  • Assess the impact of AT&T’s withdrawal regarding customer public purpose programs, such as customers enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Plan (in addition to those enrolled in the California Lifeline program and the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program).


For a quick summary download our Joint Consumer Advocates' AT&T COLR Withdrawal Application pdf fact sheet.

For opportunities to have your voice heard please visit CPUC's Public Forum on AT&T California Proceedings website.


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