FCC forces California to drop plan for government fees on text messages

California telecom regulators have abandoned a plan to impose government fees on text-messaging services, saying that a recent Federal Communications Commission vote has limited its authority over text messaging.

The FCC last week voted to classify text-messaging as an information service, rather than a telecommunications service.

“Information service” is the same classification the FCC gave to broadband when it repealed net neutrality rules and claimed that states aren’t allowed to impose their own net neutrality laws. California’s legislature passed a net neutrality law anyway and is defending it in court. But the state’s utility regulator chose not to challenge the FCC on regulation of text messaging.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was scheduled to consider the text-message fee proposal at a meeting next month but pulled the item off the agenda after the FCC action.

“Under California law, telecommunications services are subject to the collection of surcharges to support a number of CPUC public programs that subsidize the cost of service for rural Californians and for low-income, disadvantaged communities, and provides special services for the deaf, the hard of hearing, and the disabled,” the commission said in a statement Friday.


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