8660 Public Utilities Commission
15 - UNIVERSAL SERVICE TELEPHONE PROGRAMS
The PUC oversees nearly $1 billion in telecommunications consumer programs including the California Lifeline Fund, California Teleconnect Fund, Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program, and California High Cost Funds, all of which provide much-needed services to consumers and communities. The objectives of these 'universal telephone service' programs include: (1) ensuring basic telephone service remains available and affordable to all Californians regardless of geography, language, cultural, ethnic, physical or income differences; (2) encouraging consumer choice among competitive telephone companies; (3) modifying, as necessary, the basic telephone service definition to incorporate new technology for all residential subscribers; and (4) ensuring consumers have access to sufficient information to make informed choices about basic service and universal lifeline telephone services. Specifically, the California High-Cost Fund A program provides supplemental funding to 17 small local telephone companies to minimize rate disparities, which otherwise would occur in basic telephone service costs between rural and metropolitan areas. The California High-Cost Fund B program provides supplemental funding to large telephone companies to minimize disparities which otherwise would occur between high-cost and metropolitan areas. The Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications program provides assistance to deaf, hearing impaired and disabled residents. The Payphone Service Providers program provides payphones to the general public at no charge in the interest of public safety and at locations where payphones otherwise would not be found. The California Teleconnect Fund program provides discounted telecommunication services to qualifying schools, libraries, hospitals and community-based organizations. The California Advanced Services Fund Program encourages the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved rural and urban areas of California.