The California Senate recently voted to advance industry-backed legislation that limits further regulation of VoIP services by the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) and other state regulatory agencies. Senate Bill 1161 will preempt the CPUC and other state regulatory agencies from expanding regulations over VoIP-enabled voice and data services unless expressly authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) or the state Legislature. The legislation is strongly supported by the Communications industry and is likely to be signed into law this year by California Governor Jerry Brown.
The legislation does not change the current set of CPUC regulations that went into effect last November which require VoIP providers to register with the CPUC and contribute to the California Combined Funds, which include the state Universal Service and Telecommunications Relay Service programs.
The legislation will however make it very difficult for the CPUC to expand its regulations further unless new state legislation is enacted or if the FCC expands regulation of VoIP services. In effect, the legislation will tie California’s VoIP regulatory approach to the FCC. The VoIP industry can expect that whenever the FCC adopts new VoIP regulation, California is likely to follow suit soon after.
Clients with questions regarding this Advisory should contact that attorney assigned to their account.