On November 8, 2012, the Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting.  No telecommunication items were on the regular agenda, but the Commission denied the URF ILECs’ request for exemption from annual reporting requirements on the consent agenda.  Additionally, the Commission held the Proposed Decision designed to enhance customer awareness of Enhanced 9-1-1 PBX/MLTS safety issues.  These and other items of interest on the Commission’s agenda are discussed below.


URF ILECs Denied Exemption From General Order 77-M’s Annual Reporting Requirement (Item 28, approved on consent agenda) – This Decision denies an application by Citizens Telecommunications Company of California Inc. d/b/a Frontier Communications of California (“Frontier”), SureWest Telephone (“SureWest”), and Verizon California Inc. (“Verizon”) to exempt Uniform Regulatory Framework (“URF”) incumbent local exchange carriers (“ILECs”) from General Order 77-M (“GO 77-M”)’s annual reporting requirement.  GO 77-M requires the disclosure of utility executive compensation and dues, donations, subscriptions, and contributions directly or indirectly paid by each utility.

The application requested an exemption on the basis that the information required in the GO 77-M reports is unnecessary to the Commission because it no longer exercises rate-regulation over the URF ILECs.  The Decision finds that the purpose of the GO 77-M reports extends beyond the Commission’s rate-setting responsibilities.  Specifically, the Decision determines that compliance with GO 77-M continues to be appropriate for URF ILECs because:  (1) the data is necessary for the Commission to ensure reasonable rates; (2) the URF ILECs benefit from LifeLine and CHCF-B subsidies and should be held to a higher level of regulatory oversight; (3) the data can be used to monitor cross-subsidization as it relates to basic residential video services; and (4) annual reporting is necessary to promote transparency.  The Decision also finds generically that compliance with GO 77-M is “in the public interest,” and directs Commission Staff to develop an OIR to review GO 77-M and ensure that the reporting requirements remains useful.  The OIR will examine reporting requirement thresholds and establish a definition of “compensation.”

A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.

Dismissal of Cytel’s Application For Registration as an Interexchange Carrier (Item 9, approved on consent) – This Decision dismisses Cytel, Inc. (“Cytel”)’s application to register as a switchless reseller of resold interexchange service in California (the “Application”).  The Consumer Protection and Safety Division (“CPSD”) filed a protest to the Application, alleging that Cytel violated Rule 1.1 of the Public Utilities Code for declaring under penalty of perjury that none of Cytel’s officers had ever held an officer position with a company that had been found liable for fraud or violation of a law regulating public utilities.  The CPSD’s protest: (1) alleged that Cytel’s President had a history of working for or with companies that have been the subject of slamming allegations or other complaints; and (2) identified five separate incidents of investigations or sanctions related to companies in which Cytel’s President held an officer role.  The Decision further questions Cytel’s fitness to provide service in California by noting its failure to attend two separate prehearing conferences before the Commission.  Cytel later explained that the certification of false information in the application was the result of Cytel’s outside compliance advisor’s failure to understand the certification.  Additionally, Cytel also asserted that outside counsel was unable to attend the first prehearing conference due to a major power outage and was unaware of the second prehearing conference date. 
The Decision draws no conclusions regarding CPSD’s allegations against Cytel since both parties requested the proceeding be terminated.  Cytel requested to withdraw the Application and CPSD filed a motion to dismiss.  The proceeding is dismissed without prejudice; however, the Decision mandates that the information developed in this proceeding be disclosed in any future applications to the Commission when made by Cytel, its officers or its affiliates.
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.
Statutory Deadline Extended in Malibu Canyon Fire Investigation (Item 20, approved on consent) – This Decision extends the statutory deadline for resolving the Commission’s investigation into the Malibu Canyon fire as to the NextG Networks of California, Inc. (“NextG”) and Southern California Edison Company (“SCE”).  The deadline is extended to February 28, 2014.  Earlier this year, the Commission approved a settlement agreement resolving all issues in this proceeding as to the three other respondent utilities.  NextG and SCE were not a part of the settlement agreement.  This Decision determines that an extension is necessary to provide sufficient time for: (1) evidentiary hearings; (2) briefs and reply briefs; and (3) preparation, issuance, and a review of a Presiding Officer’s Decision. 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.
Fusion Telecommunications Authorized to Indirectly Acquire Network Billing Systems (Item 24) – This Decision authorizes the indirect transfer of control of Network Billing Systems, LLC (“NBS”) to Fusion Telecommunications International, Inc. (“Fusion”).  The acquiring company will be Fusion’s wholly owned subsidiary, Fusion NBS Acquisition Corp (“Newco”), which was formed for the purpose of this transaction.  NBS holds a CPCN as a non-dominant interexchange carrier and as a competitive local exchange carrier for resale services.  When a non-CPCN holding entity acquires a CPCN-holding entity, the Commission evaluates the transaction by applying the same requirements that govern a new applicant seeking a CPCN to exercise the type of authority held by the company being acquired.  The Decision determines that Fusion meets the Commission’s requirements for acquiring a CPCN-holding company and that the indirect transfer of control of NBS would not be adverse to the public interest or the environment. 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.
Case Against AT&T Dismissed for Lack of Prosecution (Item 10, approved on consent) –
This Decision grants Pacific Bell Telephone Company d/b/a AT&T California (“AT&T”)’s motion to dismiss a case for lack of prosecution.  The complaint was filed by a former AT&T customer (the “Complainant”) and it alleged that AT&T had placed false outgoing calls on the Complainant’s bill.  This Decision determines that dismissal is appropriate because the Complainant failed to appear for two separate hearings and also failed to comply with other aspects of the Administrative Law Judge’s procedural schedule. 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.
Public Safety Concerns Related to 9-1-1 Emergency Response to Multi-Line or Large Business Locations – (Item 12, held by Commissioner Simon) – This Proposed Decision would address public safety concerns related to California’s 9-1-1 emergency response system for Private Branch Exchanges (“PBX”)/Multi-Line Telephone Systems (“MLTS”) locations.  The Proposed  Decision would adopt requirements on telecommunications carriers and direct Commission Staff to facilitate awareness of inaccurate caller locations received from PBX/MLTS locations in emergency situations.
The Proposed Decision would impose the following requirements on carriers: (1) the obligation to provide a copy of the Commission’s 911/MLTS brochure to existing PBX/MLTS customers and to new customers upon initiation of PBX/MLTS service; (2) the provision of a link on a carrier’s website to the CalPhoneInfo website and to the PBX 911 Advisory; (3) an obligation to proactively publicize the Commission’s CalPhone Info webpage and PBX 911 Advisory; and (4) an obligation that a carrier update its tariff language with specific language provided in the Proposed Decision so as to specifically inform customers of their responsibilities relative to accurate caller location information.
The Proposed Decision would require Commission Staff to place and maintain a PBX 9-1-1 Advisory on the Commission’s CalPhoneInfo website.  Additionally, the Proposed Decision would impose a continuing duty on Staff to update and maintain PBX 9-1-1 Advisories on the website and to raise awareness of E911 issues associated with PBX/MLTS.  Staff would also be directed to work with the Office of Governmental Affairs to introduce effective legislation requiring PBX/MLTS owners, operators, and lessees to provide Enhanced 9-1-1 services with accurate caller location information for their customers. 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.

Several speakers spoke regarding the basic service redefinition.  In support of President Peevey’s Proposed Decision were representatives of youth education and senior citizen groups.  These speakers encouraged the Commission to facilitate communication by expanding the basic service redefinition to include wireless and VoIP services.  One speaker also noted that communities with fixed incomes are increasingly dependent on wireless technology, and members of these same communities cannot incur the additional expense of a separate home phone.

Representatives of single room occupancy hotels in the Tenderloin spoke out in support of Commissioner Florio’s Alternate.  These speakers emphasized that reliability of service and consistent access to emergency 911 services, regardless of technology, is critical to low-income communities in these living arrangements. 

The Consumer Services and Information Division (the “CSID”) and the Consumer Affairs Branch (“CAB”) presented information regarding updated resources available to consumers.  The CSID provided statistical information on inquires made by consumers to CAB and on CAB’s 3-step process for processing a utility complaint.  Additionally, the CSID introduced new and updated brochures for telecommunications customers addressing ten topics, including a consumer guide to telephone service, slamming, and prepaid phone cards.  These brochures are available in several languages.  Finally, the CSID and CAB unveiled the newly-raised CalPhoneInfo website, which is intended to provide consumers with information on telecom services and features.  The CSID also noted that it is working on creating mobile apps capable of submitting consumer complaints directly to CAB.

A copy of the presentation is available on slides 22-29 at the following link.

Copies of the updated brochures may be found on the updated CalPhoneInfo website at the following link.

Commissioner Simon noted that he chaired the quarterly meeting of the Low-Income Oversight Board in Sacramento.  Commissioner Simon noted the meeting’s discussion on technology transitions for low-income and minority communities.  The meeting also included a presentation by the Communications Division regarding the LifeLine Direct Application Process.  Commissioner Simon commended the Staff for their efforts on this initiative and expressed his belief that the Direct Application Process will engage people who require LifeLine.  He also noted his interest in coordinating with Commissioner Sandoval and the LifeLine Advisory Board in the future.

Commissioner Sandoval noted that she would speak at the Comcast Youth Technology Summit, which focuses on ensuring children and families have internet connectivity through telecom technologies.  In addition, Commissioner Sandoval expressed her gratitude to all California utilities for assisting the East Coast in its recovery from Hurricane Sandy.  She specifically thanked the telecom industry for exercising “Herculean efforts” to restore central office and cell service to those areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Finally, she noted the use of payphones during the Hurricane Sandy tragedy and urged the Commission to continue to reflect and consider the role of payphones in the future.

Commissioner Ferron also expressed his gratitude for the heroic efforts of California utility workers who volunteered to assist the East Coast.  He noted that Hurricane Sandy highlighted the need for utilities to have effective plans in place for emergency situations.  He requested the CPSD consider this issue and to provide a high-level overview of the emergency response plans of the Commission and individual utilities.   

If you have questions regarding any of the above items, or the underlying proceedings in which they arose, please feel free to contact us.

Linked Attorney(s)