On April 18, 2013, the Commission held its regularly-scheduled meeting.  No telecommunications items were discussed on the regular agenda, but the Commission held the Draft OIR to open a rulemaking to implement franchise renewal provisions of the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006 (“DIVCA”).  The Commission once again held the Proposed Decision modifying requirements for CPCN and WIR holders or applicants.  In addition, the Proposed Decision expanding the Channel Islands Telephone Company’s CPCN was also withdrawn..  These and other items of interest are discussed in further detail below. 


Rulemaking to Modify Video Franchise Renewal Procedures (Item 26, held by Staff until 5/9/13) – This item would adopt a new rulemaking to evaluate the terms under which state video franchisees can seek renewal of their authority under DIVCA.  The Draft Order Instituting Rulemaking (“OIR”) outlines an approach to renewal that harmonizes Public Utilities Code Section 5850(b) with the requirements of federal law.  As with the application process under DIVCA, the OIR envisions a relatively informal, largely ministerial process.  The proposal would permit comment on franchise renewals, but comments would be limited to whether or not an application is complete – the Commission would not be exercising discretionary authority over franchise renewals with reference to policy considerations.
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link:  
Revisions to the Certification Processes for Telephone Corporations Seeking or Holding CPCNs and WIRs (Item 33, held by Staff until 5/9/13) – This Proposed Decision would adopt revisions to the certification process for telephone corporations seeking or holding Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity (“CPCN”) and wireless carriers seeking or holding Wireless Identification Registration (“WIR”).  The changes to the certification processes are intended to increase accountability for carriers, reduce the need for enforcement actions to be brought, and improve the Commission’s ability to collect fines, penalties, and bring restitution.  The Proposed Decision would establish a Phase II of the proceeding to determine performance bond requirements, as discussed below.
The Proposed Decision would require all applicants seeking or holding a CPCN or WIR to post a bond to facilitate the collection of fines, fees, surcharges, taxes, penalties, and restitution.  ILECs are specifically exempted from the bond requirement.  The bond amount for applicants seeking or holding a CPCN or a WIR would be initially set at $25,000.  In Phase II of the rulemaking, the Commission will determine, starting with input in workshops, a reasonable performance bond amount based on intrastate revenue and/or consumer protection considerations.  The bond amount for new applicants granted a CPCN or WIR that have not reported annual intrastate revenues to the Commission would be $25,000. 
The Proposed Decision would also: (1) require CPCN applicants and wireless registrants to provide the Commission with resumes and detailed information on key officers, directors, and certain owners; (2) require applicants seeking to transfer licenses or registrations to verify compliance with Commission reporting, fee, and surcharge transmittals; (3) increase the application fee for new and transferred CPCN authority from $75 to $500, subject to legislative approval; (4) require wireless registrants to pay a $250 fee for new and transferred registration; (5) establish a minimum annual user fee of the Commission-established rate in effect at the time or $100, whichever is greater; and (6) require a new verification with specified language that certain key officers, directors, and owners were never associated with a telecommunications carrier that filed for bankruptcy, was sanctioned by the FCC or state regulatory agency, or was ever found civilly or criminally liable by a court.
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link
Proposed Legislation on the California Advanced Services Fund, AB 1299 (Bradford) (Item 45, held by staff until 5/9/13) –  This bill would require the Commission to develop, implement, and administer the California Advanced Services Fund to encourage deployment and adoption of broadband to Californians living in publicly supported housing communities in urban regions without increasing, or assessing a new surcharge.  The bill is related to concerns raised by various Legislators that certain areas of Los Angeles are inadequately served with broadband.
A copy of the Legislative Memo underlying this item is currently unavailable, however a copy of the bill is available at the following link
Proposed Legislation on Intervenor Fees, AB 995 (Frazier) (Item 42, held by staff until 5/9/13) – This bill would require the Commission to adopt rules establishing standards to verify that a customer representative is authorized by consumers, customers, or subscribers of any of the utilities.  In addition the bill would revise the definition of “substantial contribution” to require a Commission finding that the customer’s participation promoted a public purpose that directly benefits other customers.  The bill would also prohibit the total amount of the commission annually awards for intervenor compensation from exceeding the mean average of awards for the previous 3 calendar years. 
A copy of the Legislative Memo underlying this item is currently unavailable, however a copy of the most recently amended bill is available at the following link
Channel Islands Telephone Company Withdraws Application to Expand CPCN Authority (Item 34, withdrawn) – This Proposed Decision would have granted Channel Islands Telephone Company (“CITC”) a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (“CPCN”) to provide facilities-based local exchange and interexchange service to five of the Channel Islands.  The CITC was previously granted a CPCN to provide limited facilities-based local exchange and interexchange services in California.  However, a full-facilities based CPCN is required when a telecommunications provider wishes to perform non-minor construction.  The CITC project proposal would have involved installation of cellular telecommunication infrastructure at 15 project locations on Anacapa Island, San Miguel Island, Santa Barbara Island, Santa Cruz Island, and Santa Rosa Island.  CITC included a Proponent’s Environmental Assessment in its application and an Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration (“ISMND”) was prepared pursuant to CEQA requirements.  The ISMND concluded that the project would not have a significant adverse effect on the environment with the required mitigation and identified a number of project elements to be addressed as conditions of approval. 
The Proposed Decision would also have opened a Phase 2 to the proceeding to determine whether the CITC violated Rule 1.1 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure for failing to inform the Commission that the California Secretary of State suspended the CITC’s authority to conduct business in California for failing to comply with Franchise Tax obligations.
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link
Statutory Deadline Extended in Customer Complaint Against AT&T (Item 27, adopted on consent) – This Decision extends the statutory deadline for resolving a customer complaint filed against Pacific Bell Telephone Company, dba AT&T California (“AT&T”) from May 8, 2013 to November 8, 2013.  This complaint involves a customer billing dispute and the allegation that AT&T failed to apply five monthly payments the customer had made.  In a prehearing conference, the parties agreed to attempt to resolve their dispute through negotiations.  The Commission has received a notification that a settlement is moving forward.  Given the status of the settlement, the Decision finds that it is appropriate to extend the statutory deadline to allow the parties to resolve their dispute and prepare a settlement agreement.
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link
During the public session, several taxi drivers spoke out against ride-sharing businesses in San Francisco that provide services that are similar to those offered by taxis.  These speakers explained that these ride-sharing businesses are operating as illegal taxi services outside of the jurisdiction and regulations of Commission.  The speakers urged the Commission to take action to stop these businesses by highlighting the public safety concerns raised by drivers who are not required to undergo a background check.   
Many speakers at the public session once again spoke out against smart meters and urged the Commission to adopt a no-fee opt out process for customers who decide to continue using analog meters. 
The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Division announced the addition of several new ALJs, including several with telecommunications backgrounds, including ALJ Todd Edmister who was involved in the Consolidated/SureWest merger.
Consumer Service and InformationDivision(“CSID”) gave a presentation on the Consumers Affairs Bureau (“CAB”).  The CSID explained it collects data based on contacts to CAB, which include inquiries, comments, and informal complaints.  This data is broken out by industry and summarized on a monthly basis.  CSID explained that this information is used to identify emerging issues.  As a recent example, the CSID noted that this month’s summary demonstrated a 50% increase in contacts relating to LifeLine last month.  This information triggered an investigation into the LifeLine program to identify a cause and to evaluate whether additional action would be required. 
Commissioner Sandoval noted her attendance at an event honoring women’s role in communication services in Washington D.C.  The event was hosted by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council.  She also noted that she attended a tour of AT&T’s central office facility, which she enjoyed.  She then mentioned the recent and unfortunate act of vandalism near San Jose, where perpetrators cut AT&T’s underground fiber optic cables and damaged PG&E transformers.  The damage to AT&T’s cables cut off 911 service in certain areas of San Jose for a short period of time. 
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If you have questions regarding any of the above items, or the underlying proceedings in which they arose, please feel free to contact us.

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