CSAC Bulletin Article

Make an Impact on CPUC’s Customer Services Standard in State Franchising

June 8, 2023

As previously reported, recent legislation has authorized the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to create new customer service standards for franchise holders and adjudicate complaints regarding their video and broadband services. A detailed fact sheet is available here. There is still time to make your voices heard with the creation of these new regulations by:

  • Becoming a party to the proceeding – Rulemaking 23-04-006.
  • If you do not wish to become a party, you can still submit your comments and read the comments of others on the online CPUC Docket Card comment section. This ensures that your comments will appear on the formal record of the proceeding and can even be used by the assigned judge to inform their decisions.
  • Separately from the proceeding, CPUC regularly logs complaints across all CPUC-jurisdictional areas on the online complaint portal. You can submit a complaint about your utility service in this portal to get assistance in resolving customer service issues. The information you provide will be valuable data for decision-makers and legislators in creating future customer service rules.

What is State Franchising and Who are State Franchise Holders?

CPUC grants state-issued franchises to businesses seeking to offer video services in California. These franchise holders in California generate $6.5 billion in video revenue annually. Additionally, according to the latest annual franchising report, more than three quarters of all broadband-connected households receive their broadband services from internet service providers who are also state franchise holders. Currently, there are 27 active franchise holders in the state, with the largest five franchise holders serving approximately 95% of all video subscribers.

Background on Local and State Franchising

Prior to the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act (DIVCA) of 2006, franchises were authorized individually by 300 city and county governments in California. DIVCA streamlined the franchising authorization process and shifted authority toward a state-wide approach. As a result, under DIVCA, CPUC now only determines whether an application form submitted by the franchise holder is complete. The new rulemaking is contemplating adding customer service-related evaluation criteria as part of this renewal process.

Changes in Statute

In 2021, CSAC supported SB 28 (Caballero) (Chapter 673, Statute of 2021), which expanded CPUC’s authority to collect granular data about digital services and to set customer services requirements for cable providers, which is the topic CPUC’s current proceeding. This data can help determine whether services are being unfairly denied according to DIVCA’s non-discrimination statement. Make your voice heard today!


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