Bill that could Disrupt Access to Telephone Landline Service in San Mateo’s Rural Areas Pulled from Key Committee

AB 2797 could have permitted AT&T, San Mateo County’s only telephone service provider, from no longer being the county’s carrier of last resort, putting in jeopardy access to reliable telephone services, including for emergency calls

Sacramento, CA—Today, it was announced that AB 2797 will be pulled from the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, effectively stopping the bill from becoming law. This bill would no longer require AT&T to be a carrier of last resort (COLR) or to have any carrier of last resort obligations in, among other places, rural parts of San Mateo County. This move comes after many residents in San Mateo County and their elected officials raised significant concerns about the bill’s adverse impact on the dependability of their telephone service if their land lines were removed. 

“Today, my constituents scored a win with the withdrawal of state legislation that would have allowed AT&T to leave them without a landline to call 911 in an emergency and communicate daily in their rural settings where there is poor or non-existent broadband,” said Rep. Eshoo. “This was a fight worth waging and I’m proud to have done so.”

“The announcement that AB 2797 will not become law is a relief for our constituents living in rural areas who have expressed significant concerns that this bill could end or disrupt telephone service or impact their ability to call 9-1-1 during an emergency,” said Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park). “My fellow committee members and I raised serious issues with this proposal before its hearing and were pleased to see this bill pulled before we heard it. We must do everything we can to ensure that residents have access to make phone calls, especially for an emergency.”

“Now is not the time to roll back the essential safeguards provided under the COLR designation for Californians who lack dependable or affordable options for connectivity," said Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park). "Therefore I am glad that AB 2797 has been shelved. Many of my constituents living in rural areas of San Mateo County rely on access to reliable landline service during emergencies or natural disasters that are occurring more and more frequently. The CPUC was right to unanimously reject AT&T's application to drop their COLR responsibilities, and the legislature must not undermine the CPUC's decision."

“The death of AB 2797 is a major win for California residents living in rural areas whose public health and safety is reliant on their landline service due to poor cellular reception and a fragile power grid,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller. “I look forward to collaborating with AT&T to strengthen our County’s communications infrastructure in a manner that doesn’t leave vulnerable populations behind.”