California LifeLine Program



California’s LifeLine program was established in 1994 as the Moore Universal Telephone Service Act (PU Code §§ 871–884). The program provides discounted wireline or wireless service for low-income households. To qualify for the program, a customer’s household income must be below 1.5 times the federal poverty level. To see if you qualify, please visit the California LifeLine webpage. The discount amount per household is up to $12.65 per
month. Eligible customers can also receive an additional discount of up to $9.25 from the Federal LifeLine program. The Lifeline Program is funded via a surcharge assessed on revenues collected from customers of intrastate voice telecommunications services.  This surcharge is not assessed on revenues collected from customers of broadband or high speed Internet access services. 

In 2011, the CPUC opened a Rulemaking to make forward-looking modifications to the LifeLine program. In January 2014, the CPUC issued a Decision that allows the LifeLine program to include wireless service and wireline interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. In February 2015, the CPUC issued a Ruling to consider further revisions to the LifeLine program to develop participation rules for VoIP service providers that do not have a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN). VOIP service providers without a CPCN are currently not regulated by the CPUC. The CPUC will consider the following issues:

  • Service Elements
  • Program Implementation
  • Program Administration
  • Legal and Jurisdiction
  • Safety 
  • Non-Discrimination
  • Consumer Protection
  • Privacy
  • Program Compliance
  • Complaint procedure
  • Enforcement Actions
  • Program Evaluation

The CPUC expects to issue a Staff Proposal on these issues in February 2015.


ORA's Policy Position

ORA supports the LifeLine program to ensure universal access to available wireline and wireless voice services. 

ORA plans to review and evaluate the CPUC’s Staff Proposal when it is issued, with special focus on assessing whether the proposal contains robust and enforceable customer protections.


Proceeding Docket

See the Proceeding docket.  



Other Resources

California LifeLine Program Discount Comparison   

CPUC Consumer Programs and Information