Despite a recent a study indicating that wireless customers are satisfied with the quality and coverage of their services, the California PUC adopted a "Telecommunications Bill of Rights" yesterday. The new rules will apply to "all forms of telecommunications service." After months of wrangling over Commissioner Wood's proposal, Commissioners Brown and Kennedy made their own modified recommendations. Brown's proposal was adopted under a 3-2 vote. The rules cover marketing, billing and service practices. For instance, if a carrier makes changes to an existing contract that would result in higher charges or more restrictive terms and conditions, they must provide 25-days notice and give consumers the right to opt out of the contract within 30 days. Perversely, customers also have a blanket right to get out of any contract they have entered into within thirty days, without penalty. The CTIA has promised to challenge the new rules.
As the CA PUC has tentatively concluded that VoIP is a telecommunications service through an Order Instituting Investigation, it is possible that the new "Bill of Rights" could be extended to cover those services as well. Along with the recent NY order deeming VoIP to be a telecom service, this represents a retrograde move by the states away from unfettered competition.