On September 17, 2015, the Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. No telecommunications items were addressed on the regular agenda, but on consent, the Commission approved a Resolution establishing the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Equipment and Service Program budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. In addition, the Commission approved on consent the decision approving settlement in the investigation regarding Comcast’s unauthorized disclosure and publication of unlisted telephone numbers.
Also, the Commission held a Resolution that would revoke the operating authorities of 44 telephone carriers for their failure to comply with user fee, public purpose program surcharge and performance bond requirements. The Commission also held discussion of all legislative items. These and other items of interest are discussed in further detail below.
Establishing the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Equipment and Service Program Budget for the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year Budget (Item 18, approved on consent) – This resolution approves a fiscal year 2016-2017 budget of $65.03 million for the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Equipment and Relay Service Program, pursuant to Public Utilities Code Section 2881, et seq. This budget reflects no change from the enacted budget for fiscal year 2015-2016. In July 2015, the Telecommunications Access for the Deaf and Disabled Administrative Committee (TADDAC) advised the Commission’s Communications Division regarding priorities with budget implications for the fiscal year 2016-2017. TADDAC’s identified priorities include: ensuring that relay and assistive telecommunications equipment are adequately funded; increasing funds allocated to provide additional wireless devices to all target disabled communities; researching, testing and identifying landline phones for all disability groups, and identifying specific equipment that addresses the telecommunications accessibility needs of people who are deaf-blind. The Commission’s Communication Division projects that the number of participants in its Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program will increase by approximately 5% in 2016-2017, as a result of the continued population growth in California and increases in marketing and outreach activities. To determine the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program proposed 2016-2017 budget, the Communications Division reviewed actual expenses incurred for the previous four fiscal years for which this data was available, and then compared these expenses to the amounts budgeted for past years.
A copy of the Resolution underlying this item is available at the following link.
Decision Approving Settlement Resolving Allegations Regarding Comcast Unauthorized Disclosure and Publication of Unlisted Telephone Numbers(Item 27, approved on consent) – This decision adopts a $33.4 million settlement agreement in a final disposition of all issues related to allegations against Comcast regarding unauthorized disclosure and publication of the telephone numbers, addresses and names of individuals who had expressly requested that such information remain private and even paid a fee for this privacy-enhancement service. This decision comes after the Commission’s year-long investigation and a three-day evidentiary hearing. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Comcast will pay a $25 million penalty to the California General Fund and the Attorney General’s Office, in addition to, restitution to affected customers in the amount of approximately $8.4 million. As a further result of the settlement, Comcast is required to improve its practices relating to unpublished customer information. Comcast must annually report on its compliance in these areas. Finally, Comcast is obligated to contact the customers involved to explain the terms of the settlement and how they may be affected. During the hearing, Commissioner Sandoval summarized the result by noting that “[o]ur investigation revealed that many Comcast customers complained to Comcast that their names, addresses, and phone numbers were published though they had paid for that information to be kept private. It is imperative that customer complaints be quickly addressed and that systems are established to identify and correct the root cause of the problem and protect consumer privacy. This settlement requires enhanced protection of consumer data, and increased transparency about how that data is used.”
A copy of the Decision underlying this item is available at the following link.
SIGNIFICANT HELD ITEMS
Proposed Resolution T-17489 Regarding Revocation of Operating Authorities of 44 Telephone Carriers for their Failure to Comply with User Fee, Public Purpose Program Surcharge and Performance Bond Requirements(Item 5, held until November 5, 2015) – This Proposed Resolution would revoke operating authorities held by forty-four wireline telephone carriers for their failure to comply with Commission requirements. In exchange for the Commission’s grant of operating authority to California wireline telephone carriers, carriers must adhere to certain requirements. Failure to comply may result, as here, in suspension or revocation of operating authority.
The wireline telephone carriers subject to this Proposed Resolution potentially revoking their operating authority were in violation of two or more of the following categories of Commission requirements: (1) reporting and remittance of CPUC user fees in accordance with Public Utilities Code Sections 401 through 405; (2) reporting and remittance of public purpose programs surcharges in compliance with D.96-10-066; and, 3) submission of a performance bond as ordered under D.10-09-017.
Specifically, Sections 401 through 405 of the Public Utilities Code require a telephone carrier to report its California intrastate revenues and remit the corresponding amount of user fees to the Commission. Public purpose program surcharges are imposed on all telephone carriers and Voice over Internet Protocol service providers in order to help provide telecommunications services to low-income, deaf and disabled and rural customers. The Commission also requires wireline telephone carriers to obtain a continuous performance bond equal to or greater than ten percent of their intrastate revenues reported on the Commission’s User Fees Statement during the preceding calendar year or $25,000, whichever is greater. The forty-four wireline telephone carriers failed to comply with one or more of the above requirements, and as a result, would lose their authority to operate in California under the Proposed Resolution.
A copy of the Proposed Resolution underlying this item is available at the following link.