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On October 25, 2012, the Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting on location in the City of Irvine.  No telecommunications items were discussed on the regular agenda, but the Commission instituted a new rulemaking to consider whether to broaden the CASF to non-regulated entities.  The Commission once again held the proposed decision and alternate addressing the basic service redefinition and also held Draft Resolution L-436, which would adopt new regulations governing public access to Commission records and utility records held by the Commission.  These and other items of interest on the Commission’s agenda are discussed below.

CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS

New Order Instituting Rulemaking to Evaluate CASF Eligibility Requirements (Item 19, approved on consent agenda) – This item adopts an Order Instituting Rulemaking (“OIR”) to consider modifying eligibility requirements for participation in the California Advanced Service Fund (“CASF”) program.  Specifically, this proceeding will address whether an entity that is not a “telephone corporation” may apply for CASF infrastructure grants and loans. 
 
Currently, CASF funds are statutorily limited to telephone corporations, including entities that hold a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (“CPCN”) or a Wireless Identification Registration (“WIR”).   However, in recent months, the Commission has apparently received numerous letters from internet access providers, universities, and regional county organizations consisting of public and private stakeholders which claim that broadband services will not be available through the state unless the Commission broadens the CASF’s eligibility requirements.  Coupled with the surplus of available CASF grant funds, the OIR determines that it is appropriate to re-evaluate the CASF eligibility requirements in order to better effectuate universal service goals by increasing the deployment of broadband infrastructure. 
 
The OIR recognizes that current eligibility requirements are defined by statute, but it explains that the Commission intends to seek legislation in the near future.  The purpose of the rulemaking proceeding is to seek comments on the Commission’s proposal to modify the CASF eligibility requirements and to tentatively plan to adopt modifications contingent upon Legislative action.  Should the Legislature act, the rulemaking proceeding will provide a forum to draft rules to implement the new legislative direction. 
 
A copy of the draft Order Instituting Rulemaking underlying this item is available at the following link.
 
Pac-West Ordered To Refund Comcast Excess Termination Charges (Item 5, Adopted on Consent Agenda) – This Decision orders Pac-West Telecomm, Inc. (“Pac-West”) to refund to Comcast Phone of California, LLC (“Comcast”), the sum of $379,446.43, less the federal reciprocal compensation rate of $0.0007 per minute for all Internet Service Provider (“ISP”) bound calls originated by Comcast and terminated during the period April 4, 2004 through August 27, 2007, plus interest (the “Refund Amount”).
 
The Commission previously ordered Comcast to make a payment of $379,446.43 to Pac-West after concluding that the FCC’s ISP Remand Order (FCC 01-131) (established a federal termination charge regime for ISP-bound calls) did not apply to traffic between two competitive local exchange carriers (“CLECs”).  The Commission’s interpretation was ultimately reversed on appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which held that the ISP Remand Order does apply to traffic exchanged between CLECs.  AT&T Communications, et al. v. Pac-West Telecomm Inc., et al. (9th Cir. 2011) 651 F.3d 980.  The Decision orders Pac-West to refund Comcast the Refund Amount in accordance with the Ninth Circuit decision. 
 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.

Fireline Network Solutions Granted Certificate for Public of Convenience Necessity (Item 29, approved on consent agenda) – This Decision grants Fireline Network Solutions, Inc. d/b/a Fireline Broadband (“Fireline”) a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to provide limited facilities-based and resold local exchange and interexchange services in the service territories of Pacific Bell Telephone Company, d/b/a AT&T California, and Verizon California Inc. and to operate as a non-dominate interexchange carrier throughout the State of California.  This Decision concludes that Fireline’s application sufficiently conforms to the Commission’s rules for certification as a competitive local exchange carrier.    
 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.
 
Statutory Deadline Extended in Frontier, SureWest, and Verizon’s Application for Exemption from GO 77-M (Item 30, approved on consent agenda) – This Decision grants a 60-day extension from October 28, 2012 to December 27, 2012 to resolve a proceeding between Telecommunications Company of California Inc. d/b/a Frontier Communications of California (“Frontier”), SureWest Telephone (“SureWest”), and Verizon California Inc. (“Verizon”) regarding their application for exemption of Uniform Regulatory Framework incumbent local exchange carriers from General Order 77-M (“G.O. 77-M”)’s annual reporting requirement.  G.O. 77-M requires the disclosure of utility executive compensation and payments to dues, donations, subscriptions, and contributions directly or indirectly paid by each utility. 
 
A Proposed Decision addressing this application was placed on this Commission Meeting Agenda.  However, as indicated below, the Proposed Decision has once again been held for further consideration. 
 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.
 
Resolutions Authorizing Disclosure of CPSD Records (Items 4, 6, adopted on consent agenda) – These Resolutions would authorize the disclosure of the Commission’s records concerning its investigation of three separate incidents involving utilities.  Resolution L-443 authorizes the disclosure of two incidents involving Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority vehicles, one incident occurred on Long Beach Blvd. and 16th Street in the City of Long Beach, and the other on Washington Ave. and Broadway in the City of Los Angeles.  Resolution L-444 authorizes the disclosure of an investigation of an electrocution incident that occurred on April 20, 2012 in San Mateo County when the investigation is complete. 
 
Copies of the Draft Resolutions underlying these items are available at the following link.

SIGNIFICANT HELD ITEMS
 
Draft Resolution L-436 Modifying Confidentiality Standards Applicable to Documents Held by the Commission (Item 38, held by staff until 11/29/12) – This Draft Resolution would adopt new regulations governing public access to Commission records and utility records held by the Commission.  The Resolution would repeal the long-standing  procedures for obtaining information and records from the Commission, now embodied in G.O. 66-C.  These rules would be replaced with a new G.O. 66-D.  G.O. 66-D would eliminate the current protections for documents which, if revealed, would create an “unfair business disadvantage.”  It would also shift the burden of proving confidential designation of utility information and data to the utility at the point of submission.  The Draft Resolution directs the Staff to develop a publicly accessible index of information on the confidentiality presumptions applicable to broad classes of records and, where applicable, establish the legal basis for withholding records from the public. 
The Draft Resolution would also increase public access to safety-related documents and records by ordering the creation of a safety information portal on the CPUC’s internet site.  Under the Draft Resolution, the Staff would be directed to maintain a publicly accessible index or database of safety related records and information in the custody of the CPUC.  The index or database would provide links to such safety-related records. 
 
A copy of the Draft Resolution underlying this item is available at the following link.
 
Proposed Decision and Alternative Proposed Decision to Revise the Definition of Basic Telephone Service (Items 36 and 36a, held by Simon until 11/29/12) – This Proposed Decision would adopt revisions to the definition of basic telephone service that would be applied to carriers seeking to receive support from the California High Cost Fund-B and/or the California LifeLine programs.  The current basic telephone service definition was adopted in 1996.  The Commission’s stated goals in reviewing the basic service definition are to (a) consolidate and streamline existing listings of service elements, (b) apply technology-neutral terminology and definitions, and (c) avoid degrading standards necessary to meet essential universal service needs.
 
An Alternate Proposed Decision of Commissioner Florio was made available on July 18, 2012 and revised on September 26, 2012.  The Alternate differs from the Proposed Decision in a number of substantive ways.  A few notable differences include requirements for: (1) providers to maintain tariffs for their basic service offerings; (2) basic service to be offered at monthly rates with no contracts; (3) basic service to be offered as a stand-alone option; (4) basic service providers to provide unlimited incoming calls with no per-minute or per-call charges; (5) all basic service providers to offer a flat rate for unlimited outgoing calls within a specified calling area; and (6) all COLRs, unless exempted, to offer measured rate basic service options.  The recent revision to the Alternate establishes that the updated basic service definition will only serve as a baseline starting point in the LifeLine proceeding by allowing the Commission to “add, subtract, or otherwise refine elements applicable to Lifeline service.”  Furthermore, the revised Alternate provides that the “Commission also may address service quality issues relevant to Lifeline providers and may modify the flexibility granted in this Order for residential basic telephone service offered by carriers that are not Carriers of Last Resort and wish to provide Lifeline service[.]”  In addition, the revised Alternate removes the requirement for free non-published listings to be part of the basic service definition.

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

A copy of the Alternate Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.
 
Frontier, SureWest, and Verizon’s Application for Exemption of URF Carriers from General Order 77-M’s Annual Reporting Requirement (Item 37, held by Ferron until 11/8/12) – This Proposed Decision would deny 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”) (collectively, the “Applicants”) 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 payments to dues, donations, subscriptions, and contributions directly or indirectly paid by each utility. 
The Applicants 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 Proposed Decision would find that the purpose of the GO 77-M reports extends beyond the Commission’s rate-setting responsibilities.  Specifically, the Proposed Decision would determine that compliance with GO 77-M continues to be necessary for the following reasons:  (1) the data is necessary for the Commission to ensure reasonable rates; (2) since URF ILECs benefit from LifeLine and CHCF-B subsidies they should be held to a level of regulation; (3) the data is necessary to monitor cross-subsidization as it relates to basic residential video services; and (4) annual reporting is necessary to promote transparency. The Proposed Decision also finds generically that compliance with GO 77-M is “in the public interest.”  In addition, this Proposed Decision would direct Staff to develop an OIR to review GO 77-M’s definition of the term “compensation” and to review the reporting thresholds for salaries.

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

PUBLIC SESSION AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS
This Commission Meeting was held in the City of Irvine and many speakers applauded the Commission for increasing accessibility by holding its meeting in Orange County.  Most of the speakers, composed of both public officials and members of the public, spoke about the San Onofre nuclear power plant in San Clemente, California.  These speakers expressed support for the Commission’s investigation into the failure of the nuclear steam generators in the San Onofre plant.  Some speakers also advocated for the complete shutdown of the San Onofre plant.  Other speakers raised concerns with the potential increases in electricity rate costs should the plant stop operating.     
 
A speaker spoke out in favor of President Peevey’s Proposed Decision on the basic service definition.  This speaker stressed that the Commission should recognize that mobile technology is more important to renters than homeowners and for low-income communities as a whole. 
 
Commissioner Simon noted his participation at The Conference of California Public Utility Counsel’s Annual Meeting in a fireside chat with Assemblyman Steven Bradford, who chairs the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee.  He also noted that he was the recipient of an award for service his service from the CCPUC, he expressed gratitude for the award and thanked the CCPUC and its members for recognizing the efforts of his entire office.  Commissioner Sandoval mentioned her attendance at the Monterey County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held in Salinas.  She particularly wanted to note that the residents of Monterey County are affected by many of the issues that are important to the Commission, including a substantial consumer base that relies on LifeLine discounts.    


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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