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On Thursday, December 6, 2014, the Commission held its regularly-scheduled meeting.  No telecommunications items were addressed on the regular agenda, but the Commission granted CPCNs to several telecommunications carriers on the consent agenda.  In addition, during management reports, it was announced that the Commission has hired an outside expert to assess the Commission’s existing ex parte rules and to make recommendations for potential revisions to those rules.  These and other items of interest are discussed in further detail below. 
 
CONSENT AGENDA
 
SafetyNet Wireless Conditionally Designated as an ETC (Item 8, approved on consent) – This Resolution conditionally grants the request of AmeriMex Communications Corporation doing business as SafetyNet Wireless (“SafetyNet Wireless”) request to be designated as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (“ETC”) to provide federal LifeLine wireless service to qualifying customers in California in the service areas of the Uniform Regulatory Framework (“URF”) carriers, excluding the Small LEC territories.  
 
SafetyNet Wireless is a prepaid wireless service provider with principal offices located in Georgia, and was issued a Wireless Identification Registration by this Commission to operate as a commercial mobile radio service provider in July 2013.  This Resolution conditionally designates SafetyNet Wireless as a federal ETC and authorizes two LifeLine only plans that offer 501 minutes and 1,001, respectively.  This Resolution determines that conditionally granting SafetyNet Wireless’s request for ETC designation is in the public interest and that SafetyNet Wireless meets all applicable environmental, technical, and financial requirements in Resolution T-17002. 
 
The Resolution further explains that SafetyNet Wireless’s ETC designation shall be subject to SafetyNet Wireless’s ability to address several outstanding items.  Specifically, SafetyNet Wireless will be required to:  (1) file annual reports and compliance reports with the FCC and the Commission; (2) submit to the Communications Division’s Director a copy of the information submitted to USAC and a copy of SafetyNet Wireless’s certification of approval from USAC within 30 days of receipt from USAC of its compliance regarding the federal Lifeline wireless plan; (3) submit its marketing materials to the Commission’s LifeLine staff for approval prior to distribution and publication; and (4) clearly identify its wireless mobility safety content on all distributed federal Lifeline materials and on the company website. 
 
A copy of the Draft Resolution underlying this item is available at the following link:  
 
ViaSat Granted CPCN (Item 13, approved on consent) – This Decision grants ViaSat, Inc. (“ViaSat”) a certificate of public convenience and necessity (“CPCN”) to provide limited facilities-based and resold telecommunications services in the service territories of Pacific Bell Telephone Company doing business as AT&T California, Verizon California Inc., Citizens Telecommunications Company of California, Inc. doing business as Frontier Communications and Frontier Communications of the Southwest, Inc., and SureWest Communications.  The Decision also grants ViaSat authority to offer interexchange service in California.  ViaSat’s business plan appears to be to apply for CASF funding, and it sought a CPCN with this objective in mind.
 
ViaSat is a California-based business that proposes to provide interexchange services to businesses and residential customers through two-way satellite-based broadband internet connections.  ViaSat may also provide prepaid calling card services and/or private line or special access arrangements. 
 
The Decision concludes that the commission has jurisdiction to issue a CPCN to ViaSat based on a declaration from ViaSat that it will operate as a telephone corporation and public utility under its jurisdiction, and obey the Commission’s rules, decisions, and order.  Significantly, the Decision also acknowledges that ViaSat may not retain its CPCN if it does not receive funding from the California Advanced Services Fund. 
 
The Decision further concludes that ViaSat meets other requirements necessary to be granted CPCN, including environmental, financial, and technical and managerial expertise requirements.
 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link
 
Surfnet Communications Granted CPCN (Item 14, approved on consent) – This Decision grants Surfnet Communications, Inc. (“Surfnet”) a certificate of public convenience and necessity (“CPCN”) to provide resold and limited facilities-based interexchange telecommunications service in California.  In July 2013, Surfnet filed an application for registration as an interexchange pursuant to the ministerial registration process.  However, due to questions related to the nature of Surfnet’s service offerings, it was determined that the application did not qualify for the expedited process.
 
Surfnet indicates that its network will support high capacity circuits such as T-1s and DS3s, and higher levels of Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) bandwidth.  These high capacity circuits may be provided on a point-to-point basis, or interconnected PSTN for handoff of traffic if requested b customers.  Customers may also access the high capacity services through POTS ports, T-1 Ports, or DS-3 Jack Interfaces.  As part of its resale offerings, Surfnet may also provide some services or features using IP-based technology. 
 
The Decision concludes that it is appropriate to grant Surfnet a CPCN, and that the Commission has regulatory authority based on a declaration by Surfnet’s CEO that Surfnet meets the definition of a common carrier and telecommunications carrier under Federal rules, and as a  telephone corporation under the Public Utilities Code.  Moreover, Surfnet acknowledges that it will be subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction and rules regardless of the underlying technology used to provide its services. 
 
The Decision further concludes that Surfnet meets other requirements necessary to be granted CPCN, including environmental, financial, and technical and managerial expertise requirements.
 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link:  
 
Connect First Granted CPCN (Item 16, approved on consent) – This Decision approves a settlement agreement between Connect First, Inc. (“Connect First”) and the Commission’s Safety and Enforcement Division (“SED”), in which Connect First is granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity (“CPCN”) to provide resold interexchange service in California.  Connect First is a corporation authorized to do business in California, with its principal place of business located in Boulder, Colorado.  Connect First provides software, intended for call centers, that supports customers in providing customer service.  In May 2014, Connect First filed an application seeking a CPCN to operate in California as a provider of resold interexchange services.  In its initial application, Connect First acknowledged that it had been providing resold interexchange services in California without proper authorization. 
 
Shortly after Connect First filed its application, SED protested the application on the basis that Connect First has been operating without authority since 2010.  In September 2014, SED and Connect First filed a joint motion for approval of a settlement agreement, purporting to resolve all issues between the parties.  Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Connect America acknowledges that it failed to obtain the required authority to provide telecommunications services pursuant to Public Utilities Code Section 1001.  The Settlement Agreement further requires Connect First to pay $8,000 to the State of California General Fund to resolve the legal issues raised by SED. 
 
This Decision finds that the settlement agreement is in the public interest and is consistent with the Commission’s “well-established policy of supporting resolution of disputed matters through settlement, and avoids the time, expense, and uncertainty of evidentiary hearings and further litigation.”  The Decision also concludes that the settlement is fair and reasonable in light of the record, and no part of the settlement agreement contravenes any statutory provisions or prior Commission decisions.  Further, the Decision finds the proposed penalty set forth in the settlement agreement to be reasonable.
 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link:  
 
HELD ITEMS
 
UCAN’s Request for Intervenor Compensation in the AT&T and T-Mobile Merger Proceeding (Item 25, held by Staff until 12/18) – This Proposed Decision would grant $11,339.75 in intervenor compensation to the Utility Consumers’ Action Network (“UCAN”) for its contribution to D.12-08-025, which dismissed the Commission’s investigation into the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) by AT&T Inc. (“AT&T”).  The investigation was deemed moot by D.12-08-025 based on the withdrawal of the merger application by AT&T and T-Mobile before the FCC.  Notwithstanding the dismissal of the investigation, the Proposed Decision would find that UCAN’s participation in the investigative proceeding constituted “substantial contribution” that would have produced benefits for ratepayers had the merger application had not been withdrawn.  Therefore, the Proposed Decision would conclude that the majority of UCAN’s claimed costs and expenses are reasonable.
 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item available at the following link:  
  
Greenlining’s Request for Intervenor Compensationin the AT&T and T-Mobile Acquisition Proceeding (Item 26, held by Staff until 12/18) –This Proposed Decision would grant $154,100.50 in intervenor compensation to The Greenlining Institute (“Greenlining”) for its contribution to D.12-08-025, which dismissed the Commission’s investigation into the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) by AT&T Inc. (“AT&T”).  The investigation was deemed moot by D.12-08-025 based on the withdrawal of the merger application by AT&T and T-Mobile at the FCC.  Notwithstanding the dismissal of the investigation, the Proposed Decision would find that Greenlining’s participation in the investigative proceeding constituted “substantial contribution” and would have produced benefits for ratepayers had the merger application not been withdrawn.  Therefore, the Proposed Decision would conclude that the vast majority of Greenlining’s claimed costs and expenses are reasonable.  The Proposed Decision would order T-Mobile and AT&T to pay Greenlining their respective shares of the award, based on their California-jurisdictional telecommunications revenues for the 2011 calendar year. 
 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link:  

Black Economic Council, National Asian American Coalition, and Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles’s Request for Intervenor Compensationin the AT&T and T-Mobile Acquisition Proceeding (Item 27, held by Staff until 12/18) – This Proposed Decision would grant $42,505.15 in intervenor compensation to the Black Economic Council, National Asian American Coalition, and Latino Chamber of Greater Los Angeles (“Consumer Groups”) for its contribution to D.12-08-025, which dismissed the Commission’s investigation into the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) by AT&T Inc. (“AT&T”). 
 
The investigation was deemed moot by D.12-08-025 based on the withdrawal of the merger application by AT&T and T-Mobile at the FCC.  Notwithstanding the dismissal of the investigation, the Proposed Decision would find that some of the Joint Consumer’s participation in the investigative proceeding constituted “substantial contribution” and would have produced benefits for ratepayers had the merger application had not been withdrawn.  The amount awarded is a reduction by 82.45% from the Consumer Group’s initial claim of $242,243.  The Decision explains that certain claims were denied on the basis that the comments did not directly concern the effect of the merger on competition, were outside of the scope of the investigation, and because some of the Joint Consumers contributions were duplicative of other parties. 
 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item available at the following link:  
  
COMMISSIONER REPORTS AND MANAGEMENT REPORTS
 
Brian Turner of the Policy and External Relations Department gave a presentation on efforts to date to enhance transparency at the Commission.  Mr. Turner explained that this project is being pursued in response to a directive by President Peevey to the Executive Director to conduct a review through an outside expert.  Mr. Turner announced that the Policy and External Relations Department has established the scope of the project, conducted a market survey of qualified experts, and executed a contract with Michael Strumwasser of Strumwasser & Woocher LLP.  Mr. Turner noted Mr. Strumwasser’s extensive experience in administrative law and highlighted key aspects of his long career.
 
The scope of the engagement for this project will require Mr. Strumwasser to conduct internal and external interviews in order to assess the nature and extent of compliance with existing Commission rules and requirements regarding ex parte communications.  Mr. Strumwasser will also assess whether existing rules and requirements, if complied with, are adequate to ensure transparency, due process, and public accountability.  After a thorough review of the Commission’s practices, it is anticipated that Mr. Strumwasser will provide a detailed report of his findings and provide appropriate recommendations.
 
 
A copy of the Policy and External Relations Department’s PowerPoint presentation slides are attached to this email. 

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