Californians can continue their carefree texting for the foreseeable future.The state’s public utilities commission announced Friday that it would not tax residents’ cell phone plans, reversing course on a proposal to add a new monthly fee on texting in hopes of increasing funding to a program that finances services like 911 and subsidized phone rates for low-income Californians.
According to the California Public Utilities Commission, the tax would have cost customers an additional $1.40 for $20 of texting charges. But the utilities commission said a new Federal Communications Commission rule would not allow them to follow through on the idea.
The changed rule came Wednesday when the FCC said text messaging is an information service and not a telecommunications service. That means states have a limited authority over texting.
The California Public Utilities Commission had scheduled a vote on the measure for Jan. 10, but Commissioner Carla Peterman withdrew the proposal in light of the federal decision.The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the rule change gained the support of consumers, conservatives and members of the telecommunications industry.