On February 26, 2015, the Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. It was a particularly light meeting, with no telecommunications items on the regular or the consent agendas. However, in an impromptu presentation at the end of the meeting, interim General Counsel Helen Mickiewicz reported on the FCC’s vote adopting the Open Internet Order, which was announced by the FCC during the Commission meeting. In addition, during management reports, Commissioner Sandoval reported on her success at securing state commission access to Network Outage Reporting System (“NORS”) data from the FCC. It was also announced that Elizaveta Malashenko was appointed as the new Director of the Safety and Enforcement Division. Further, the item on the agenda that would have expanded the Utilities Supplier Diversity Program to Lesbian Gay Transgender Bisexual (“LGTB”) Business Enterprises was withdrawn. These and other items of interest are discussed in further detail below.
REPORT ON THE FCC’s OPEN INTERNET ORDER
Although it was not on the agenda, acting interim General Counsel Helen Mickiewicz gave a brief report on events that occurred at the FCC that very morning, specifically the FCC’s three-to-two vote adopting new open internet rules against throttling, blocking, and paid prioritization by wireline and wireless internet service providers. She explained that the FCC adopted these rules by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Telecom Act, which was the approach that the Legal Division staff had recommended to the Commission in September of last year in connection with potential comments to the FCC on the subject. In addition, the FCC announced that they had adopted a general conduct rule to bar broadband internet service providers from unreasonably interfering with or unreasonably disadvantaging the ability of consumers and edge providers from communicating with each other. She explained that the text of the order is not yet available, but that it is being described as a forbearance approach to ensure a light touch on regulation overall.
Ms. Mickiewicz also briefly reported on the FCC’s companion order, which was also adopted by a three-to-two vote. The companion order preempted state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that imposed restrictions on municipalities’ broadband networks. She also indicated that a more detailed presentation would be made at the next meeting if the orders are made available in a timely fashion.
President Picker requested that the presentation include a discussion about how these orders affect the Commission’s authority, and whether they “open” or “close” the Commission’s authority.
Expanding the Utilities Supplier Diversity Program to LGTB Business Enterprises (Item 5) – This Proposed Decision would have adopted revisions to General Order (“G.O.”) 156 to comply Assembly Bill 1678 by extending the provisions of the Utilities’ Supplier Diversity Program to business enterprises owned by LGTB business enterprises. The initial purpose of the Commission’s Supplier Diversity Program was to encourage greater economic opportunity for business enterprises owned by women, minority, and disabled persons. This Proposed Decision would have expanded the program to the LGTB community. The Proposed Decision also would have: (1) adopted the LGTB status qualifiers created by the National and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; (2) authorized and direct the Executive Director of the Commission to enter into a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) with the NGLCC to establish general guidelines and an operating framework for the responsibilities and roles of the NGLCC and the Clearinghouse in implementing AB 1678; (3) authorized and directed the Clearinghouse to begin data sharing with NGLCC; (4) authorized and directed the Clearinghouse to implement the amended G.O. 156; (5) directed utilities to take the necessary actions to set the foundations for the Clearinghouse’s implementation of the amended GO 156; (6) authorized and directed the NGLCC to comply with the MOU in implementing the amended GO 156 pursuant to AB 1678 and to conduct verifications/certifications and renewals/re-certifications of the prospective contractors for purposes of the Utilities’ Supplier Diversity Program; and (7) adopted a three-year plan and framework to gather data and experiences to set target goals for the these providers for purposes of the Utilities’ Supplier Diversity Program.
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link:
Commissioner Sandoval announced that she and Commissioner Peterman attended the recent NARUC meeting, and was pleased to report that NARUC unanimously adopted a Resolution that she co-sponsored with Washington State Commissioner Phil Jones. The Resolution asked the FCC to grant states access to the Network Outage Systems Database (“NORS”). This system provides information regarding telecommunications outages, specifically instances that resulted in consumers having no dial tone and leaves consumers unable to reach 911 during an emergency. Commissioner Sandoval explained that the CPUC first petitioned the FCC for access to the NORS database in 2009 and that the FCC has yet to act on the petition. As a result, she was pleased that other states joined California’s efforts through the unanimous Resolution to support state access to the NORS database. Shortly following this vote, Commissioner Wheeler announced during the NARUC conference that the FCC has already begun circulating an item that would grant states’ access to the NORS database, and that he has already voted for the item and has called on his colleagues to do the same.
Commissioner Sandoval also noted that she attended the CASF Learning Summit where she briefly gave an update of what the CPUC is doing with the CASF program and the broadband consortium groups. She expressed gratitude for their work and her continued support in ensuring available funding for broadband mapping projects and for broadband consortium groups to continuing their work.
Commissioner Sandoval then announced that the FCC’s recent Section 706 Report on the status of broadband deployment and adoption in America specifically recognized the work of the Commission, and in particular the Commission’s broadband mapping team, on their work documenting the extent of broadband services in California. Commissioner Sandoval then reported that she spoke in Sacramento at the Connected Capital Broadband Consortium’s Hacker Lab event and that she also attended the Comcast-Time Warner all-party meeting.
Commissioner Randolph noted that she attended the all-party meeting addressing the proposed decision in the Comcast-Time Warner transaction approval proceeding, which she found to be incredibly useful and helpful.
Commissioner Peterman thanked her fellow Commissioners for attending the Comcast-Time Warner all-party meeting. She noted that the all-party provided a great opportunity to get a sense of each of the parties’ positions.
She then commended Commissioner Sandoval for her role at the NARUC meeting in ensuring state access to NORS data, acknowledging that it is very rare to have all states want to support something that California is doing. She also mentioned that Chairman Wheeler gave a “shout out” to Commissioner Sandoval for her efforts, and that it was nice to see California contributing on an important issue about access to data that will ensure their ability to make better decisions as regulators.
President Picker began with general Commission announcements, and reminded the Commissioners and their advisors that a training session on safety-related General Orders and Public Utilities Codes was scheduled. Although the meeting is not open to the public, President Picker explained that they wanted the public to be aware that the Commission is moving forward with the items presented in the Safety Action Plan.
President Picker then expressed his gratitude to Chief ALJ Clopton for her year-long role as the acting General Counsel. He spoke positively of her ability to work during the turbulences of San Bruno discussions and commended her progress with the Legal Division developing changes on reform and accountability. The other Commissioners also expressed their gratitude, and in particular their appreciation for her work in reducing the backlog in addressing appeals.
SED ANNOUNCES NEW SED DIRECTOR
Interim Executive Director Sullivan announced that Elizaveta Malashenko, the former Deputy Director of the Safety and Enforcement Division, was promoted to the Division Director. Ms. Malashenko most recently led the effort on the Safety Action Plan that has been put into place by Commission.
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