RESOLUTION T- 17002: What Is It & What Does It Do?

Resolution T-17002 is an important regulatory order issued in 2006 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The resolution establishes policies to enhance access to advanced telecommunications services for all Californians, with a focus on increasing broadband adoption in underserved communities across the state.

What is Resolution T-17002?

Resolution T-17002 is a regulatory order issued on May 25, 2006 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). It establishes guidelines and requirements for telephone corporations seeking designation as Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) in California to be eligible for federal universal service funding support.

The resolution was enacted in response to changes at the federal level regarding ETC requirements and universal service programs under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It lays out application requirements, service standards, reporting rules, and other regulations for carriers to comply with in order to provide universal service as ETCs in California.

The CPUC issued Resolution T-17002 under its authority to designate ETCs in the state of California, as granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The resolution aimed to ensure public access to affordable basic telephone service in high-cost areas of California through the federal Universal Service Fund.

Background and Context

Resolution T-17002 was enacted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in 2006 to address concerns involving the California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) program, a discounted utility rate program for qualifying low-income households ( The CARE program had been established in 1989, but by the early 2000s there were growing worries about under-enrollment in the program and lack of accessibility for eligible low-income customers. For example, only 25% of households in PG&E’s territory that qualified for CARE were actually enrolled as of 2001 (

Advocacy groups pointed out that cumbersome application requirements, lack of outreach, and confusion about eligibility were barriers to CARE participation. The CPUC responded by launching efforts in 2001-2002 to reform and expand CARE, but ultimately determined that more comprehensive statewide guidelines and procedures were needed to achieve the program’s goals and reach underserved communities. This led to the proposal and passage of Resolution T-17002 in 2006 to develop a uniform CARE policy across California’s utility providers.

Main Objectives

Resolution T-17002, adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in May 2006, had several key goals and objectives related to achieving universal service in the state:

– Ensure all Californians have access to affordable basic telephone service (CPUC). The resolution aimed to provide telephone access to low-income households and maintain rates that are reasonably comparable across the state.

– Support the ongoing availability of existing services while encouraging the development of new technologies (CPUC). The CPUC wanted to sustain traditional landline services while also enabling growth and adoption of innovative services like VoIP.

– Fiscally responsible program administration and rate structure (CPUC). The resolution called for financially prudent administration of universal service programs to benefit all ratepayers.

– Ensure availability of broadband Internet services (CPUC). The CPUC recognized the importance of broadband access and aimed to promote its deployment throughout the state.

In summary, the main objectives focused on affordability, accessibility, responsible administration, and supporting both traditional and emerging technologies.

Key Provisions

Resolution T-17002, approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in May 2006, enacted several key provisions and requirements for carriers seeking Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) status in California. Some of the main provisions included:

• Carriers must provide all supported services throughout their designated service area in order to receive federal universal service fund support (CPUC 2006). This ensures funding is only provided where services are fully available.

• ETCs must provide free access to 911/E911 emergency services, provide access to relay services for customers with hearing/speech disabilities, offer Lifeline discounted services, and provide other basic services supported by federal universal service mechanisms (CPUC ETC).

• Carriers must submit detailed information in their ETC applications demonstrating technical, financial, and operational abilities to provide supported services. Ongoing reporting and certifications are also required (Utah PSC 2009).

• Carriers must comply with consumer protection rules and service quality standards established by the CPUC. This helps ensure customers receive adequate services.

Intended Outcomes

Resolution T-17002 was intended to have several key impacts and outcomes relating to the provision of universal service in California. The CPUC emphasized that a key objective was to ensure all California residents have access to telecommunications services at affordable rates (CPUC, 2006).

Specifically, the resolution aimed to standardize and streamline requirements for carriers seeking Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) designation in California. This was intended to promote competition and consumer choice by making it easier for new carriers to gain ETC status. However, it also imposed stricter obligations on ETCs to ensure they were truly providing universal service as required (CPUC, 2014).

Some of the main intended outcomes included:

  • Increased availability of wireless Lifeline services for low-income consumers across California.
  • Improved quality standards for supported services provided by ETCs.
  • More transparent reporting and accountability requirements for ETCs.
  • Access to 911/E911 services and toll limitation for qualifying low-income customers.
  • Carrier contributions to California universal service programs and funds.

Overall, Resolution T-17002 aimed to expand and strengthen California’s universal service programs while promoting increased competition and wireless access for consumers (CPUC, 2006). The impacts were intended to be far-reaching, increasing access for underserved communities and providing safeguards to ensure affordable, quality services.

Responses and Reactions

Resolution T-17002 has elicited a range of reactions from various stakeholders since its passage in 2006. Consumer advocacy groups have largely praised the resolution for expanding options and support for low-income households. Groups like the National Consumer Law Center hailed it as a “victory for low-income consumers” that would help connect more households to vital communication services (1).

While consumer groups have been supportive, some telecom providers initially pushed back against parts of the resolution. Shortly after it passed, Verizon appealed the new requirements, arguing they were too burdensome. However, the California Supreme Court ultimately upheld Resolution T-17002 in 2008, cementing its provisions (2). Since then, most major telecoms have worked to comply with the resolution’s directives around Lifeline eligibility and enrollment.

Over 15 years since its passage, Resolution T-17002 continues to have ardent support from consumer advocacy organizations. But telecoms have also seen benefits, with expanded Lifeline subsidies helping provide new customers. The CPUC maintains the resolution as an important framework for balancing accessibility and corporate responsibility.

Implementation Status

Resolution T-17002 was adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in May 2006 to establish comprehensive procedures and guidelines for the California Lifeline program. The Lifeline program provides discounted phone services to eligible low-income households.

Since its passage, the CPUC and phone service providers have been working to implement the various provisions laid out in Resolution T-17002. Some of the key implementation steps have included:

– Developing marketing, education and outreach plans to increase Lifeline enrollment[1]

– Establishing processes for phone companies to claim reimbursements for providing Lifeline services[2]

– Creating systems to verify subscriber eligibility and prevent duplicative Lifeline subscriptions[1]

– Issuing yearly revisions to Lifeline income eligibility guidelines[1]

– Adding Lifeline services like broadband internet and wireless minutes in alignment with FCC orders[1]

Overall, the CPUC and companies have made significant progress in implementing Resolution T-17002 over the past 15+ years. However, work is still ongoing to fully achieve the resolution’s goals and expand affordable Lifeline services.



Remaining Challenges

While Resolution T-17002 has achieved many of its intended goals, some challenges and debates continue around its implementation. One key issue is around the requirement for ETCs to provide comparable local usage plans. Some smaller carriers have argued this creates an unfair cost burden compared to larger competitors. There is an ongoing debate about whether the rules should be adjusted for smaller regional carriers given their scale and resources.

Another challenge is around providing affordable services to all customers, including low-income households. Some advocacy groups argue the resolution’s requirements don’t go far enough to make services truly affordable for all. They contend more subsidies or targeted programs are needed to meet the goal of universal access.

There are also continued discussions around mechanisms for accountability and enforcement when carriers fail to meet service quality and build-out requirements. Some argue the resolution lacks sufficient teeth for ensuring compliance. Developing metrics and processes for enforcement continues to be an area of focus.

The Road Ahead

Resolution T-17002 established comprehensive guidelines and requirements for carriers seeking Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) status in California. The resolution aimed to increase accountability and oversight of ETCs receiving subsidies from the federal Lifeline program to provide discounted services to low-income consumers. However, some key challenges remain regarding the future impacts and implementation of T-17002.

One critical issue is maintaining sufficient funding and resources for the Lifeline program given the growth in ETCs and Lifeline subscribers in California (CPUC Resolution T-17002, p. 15). With more companies offering Lifeline services, it raises concerns about the fund’s sustainability if participation continues rising faster than revenues. The CPUC may need to establish additional safeguards and review processes to ensure fiscal viability (CPUC Efile No. 502980994, p. 12).

Another ongoing debate involves balancing the goal of providing affordable access with minimizing waste, fraud and abuse. While T-17002 enacted measures to improve accountability, some critics argue it does not go far enough in tracking usage or preventing duplicative support (Greenlining Settlement Agreement, p. 2). The CPUC continues seeking comment on how to strengthen protections without limiting access for those in need.

Additionally, the CPUC must monitor ETC compliance with service quality metrics and consumer protection requirements outlined in T-17002. Rigorous auditing and enforcement will be necessary to realize the resolution’s objectives. The CPUC is developing monitoring regimes and performance tracking systems to maintain accountability.

Overall, the full impact of Resolution T-17002 remains to be seen. As California works to connect more households to essential communications services, the CPUC and policymakers continue efforts to modernize the Lifeline program. Ensuring affordable access while promoting responsible stewardship of public funds remains an ongoing balancing act. The road ahead will require creative solutions to maximize the benefits of T-17002 for Lifeline consumers across the state.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *