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Basic Service Definition

At a minimum, the following service elements must be offered on a nondiscriminatory basis by any carrier providing Residential Basic Telephone Service (basic service) within California.  These revised basic service elements do not impose an obligation to provide basic service upon any carrier where no such obligation exists today.  Nor do they prohibit a carrier from electing to provide additional elements as part of its basic service offering.  Any carrier may use any technology to satisfy any obligation to provide basic service as detailed below:

I.                   Basic Service Elements:

1.   The provider must offer customers the ability to place and receive voice‑grade calls over all distances utilizing the public switched telephone network or successor network. 

a.   Carriers offering basic service must at a minimum enable calls to be sent and received within a local exchange or over an equivalent or larger-sized local calling area. 

b.   A basic service provider must allow equal access to all interexchange carriers within the local calling area in accordance with state and federal law and regulation. 

c.   Carriers offering basic service must provide a voice-grade connection from the customer residence to the public switched telephone network or successor network.

d.   Carriers offering basic service must disclose to each customer before subscription that they are entitled to a voice‑grade connection and the conditions under which the customer may terminate service without penalty if one cannot be provided. 

e.   If at any time, a basic service customer fails to receive a voice‑grade connection to the residence and notifies the provider, the basic service provider is required to (1) promptly restore the voice-grade connection, or if not possible (2) provide basic service to that customer using a different technology if offered by the provider and if the customer agrees; or (3) allow the customer to discontinue service without incurring early termination fees, if applicable.  Nothing in these rules should be inferred as modifying the service obligation of a COLR to ensure continuity of customers’ basic service.

2.   Free access to 911/Enhanced (E) 911 service. 

(a)  A basic service provider must provide free access to 911/E911 emergency services, in compliance with current state and federal laws and regulations. 

(b)  Any carrier that is not a traditional wireline provider of basic service will be required to make a showing by filing a Tier 3 Advice Letter that demonstrates its ability to provide 911/E911 location accuracy and reliability that is at a minimum at least reasonably comparable, but not necessarily identical to, that traditional wireline service offered by the existing COLR.

(c) The basic service provider will further be required to certify in a Tier 3 Advice Letter filing that it is compliant with 911/E911 standards established by state and federal laws and regulations, and will not be deemed to provide basic service if it has obtained a waiver from such state and federal laws and regulations.

(d) Each basic service provider must provide its potential and existing customers information regarding its 911/E911 emergency services location accuracy and reliability standards.

3.   Access to directory services. 

(a)    Each basic service provider must offer access to directory assistance within the customer’s local community that covers an area at least equivalent to the size of the geographic area the existing COLR’s directory assistance service provides.

(b)    For basic service provided by other than a traditional wireline carrier, a customer’s listing may be excluded from the local directory and directory assistance as a default unless the subscriber affirmatively requests to have the number listed.

(c)    For basic service provided by a traditional wireline carrier, a customer’s listing shall be included for free in the local directory and directory assistance as a default unless the customer affirmatively requests to have the number unlisted. 

(d)    A basic service provider must provide customers the option to receive a free white pages directory covering the local community in which the customer resides.  For purposes of this definition, the local community shall include a geographic region at least equivalent to the area covered by the white pages directory that the existing COLR currently provides.  

(e)    Because Verizon California, Inc. (Verizon) and other providers of basic service to customers residing in Verizon’s service territory have been authorized to provide electronic delivery pursuant to Resolution T‑17302, that authorization is compliant with the white pages directory requirement for basic service in Verizon’s territory.

(f)     The requirement to provide a free published directory can be satisfied using the procedures authorized in Resolution T‑17302 in other territories upon the filing of a Tier 2 Advice Letter.  Under this authorization, the affected customers will receive delivery of the directory electronically by CD-ROM or by on‑line access, unless a customer affirmatively elects to receive a traditional printed paper copy by contacting the basic service provider under the procedures authorized in Resolution T‑17302.

4.   Billing Provisions  

(a)    Providers of basic service must offer customers the option to receive unlimited incoming calls without incurring a per‑minute or per-call charge. 

(b)    Carriers offering basic service must offer a flat rate option for unlimited outgoing calls that at a minimum mirrors the local exchange or an equivalent or larger sized local calling area in which the basic service customer resides.  

(c)    Basic service must be offered on a non-disriminatory basis to all residential households within the provider’s service territory.  A carrier may satisfy this obligation using different technologies throughout its service territory. 

(d)    Basic service providers must offer Lifeline rates on a non-discriminatory basis to any customers meeting Lifeline eligibility requirements residing within the service territory where the provider offers basic service. 

(e)    Carriers providing basic service must offer an option with monthly rates and without contract or early termination penalties.

(f)     Carriers may offer added features and/or enhanced serve elements without additional charge(s) as part of a basic service offering.  For example, carriers must not obligate customers to also subscribe to service bundles that require subscription to data and/or video services as a condition of receiving basic service.

(g)    As of January 1, 2011, the Commission no longer imposes caps on basic rates.  A COLR serving in a high-cost area, however, will continue to be required to certify that its basic rate in a designated high-cost area does not exceed 150% of the highest basic rate charged by a COLR in California outside of the high-cost area.

5.   Access to 800 and 8YY Toll-Free Services.

(a.)   Each provider of basic service must offer at least one basic service option that allows unlimited calls to 800 and 8YY toll-free numbers with no additional usage charges for such calls.  A provider may offer alternative billing plans for basic service that may include usage charges for calls to 800 and 8YY toll-free numbers.

(b)    In any event, the carrier must provide full disclosure to the customer concerning how charges for 800 numbers would apply if the customer does not subscribe to an unlimited calling flat rate option.

6.   Access to Telephone Relay Service as Provided for in Pub. Util. Code § 2881.

Basic service providers must offer free access to California Relay Service pursuant to § 2881 for deaf or hearing-impaired persons or individuals with speech disabilities. 

7.   Free Access to Customer Service for Information about Universal Lifeline Telephone Service (ULTS) Service Activation, Service Termination, Service Repair and Bill Inquiries.

The basic service provider shall provide free access to customer service for information about the above-referenced services.

8.   One-Time Free Blocking for Information Services, and One-Time Billing Adjustments for Charges Incurred Inadvertently, Mistakenly, or Without Authorization.

Basic service must include the provision of one-time free blocking for 900/976 information services and one-time free billing adjustments for changes inadvertently or mistakenly incurred, or without authorization. 

1.      Access to operator services

Basic service shall include free access to operator services.


II.               General Requirements

In addition to the basic service elements and related requirements listed above, basic service shall be provided consistent with the following requirements.


a)     A basic service provider must file and maintain tariffs or schedules with the Commission by a Tier 2 Advice Letter for its basic service offerings which must include its basic service rates, charges, terms, and conditions; and must make them publicly available.  Requirements for customer notice and/or Commission filings for revisions in basic service rates, charges, terms, and/or conditions must be made in accordance with the applicable requirements for tariff filings set forth in General Order 96-B.


b)     If a carrier chooses to offer basic service in all or part of its service territory using multiple, different technologies, each type of offering must be tariffed or scheduled with the Commission.  This requirement does not extend beyond basic service.


c)     Each basic service provider must clearly inform all potential residential subscribers who contact the provider prior to initiating service of their option to purchase basic service and to subscribe to basic service on a month-to-month basis with no termed contracts.


d)    A provider must not represent to customers, or in advertising or by any other means, that any services, service elements, or service conditions, except those authorized by the Commission, constitute basic service in California.


e)   Until the Commission determines the extent to which new service quality standards should be adopted for carriers, a provider that wishes to offer basic service utilizing anything other than traditional exchange-based wireline technology that cannot comply with all the requirements of General Order 133-C must file a Tier 3 advice letter.


f)         This filing must indicate what General Order 133-C service quality measurements and reporting procedures it can comply with, those it can provide functionally equivalent reporting information for and lastly what measurement and reporting requirements are not applicable to the technology it is using to provide basic service.  This filing must further indicate how the new service or new technology maintains essential basic services or standards.

Last Modified: 6/9/2015

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