On Thursday, February 14, 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The meeting was brief, and the most significant item was the consent agenda decision approving Time Warner’s request to discontinue circuit-switched voice service. This and other telecommunications-related items of significance are described further below.
REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS
Time Warner Granted Authority to Discontinue The Provision of Circuit-Switched Telephone Service (Item 20, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision grants Time Warner Cable Information Services’ request for authority to discontinue its regulated, circuit-switched local exchange and interexchange telecommunications services. These services are currently offered to approximately 10,500 customers in various areas of Southern California. Service will be permanently discontinued on March 28, 2008, and customers will either voluntarily switch to Time Warner’s IP-based service (Time Warner Cable Digital Voice), or they will be migrated to one of three “default carriers” in Time Warner’s existing footprint pursuant to the Commission’s CLEC mass migration rules. The most recent copy of the proposed decision in this docket is attached for your reference: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/WORD_PDF/AGENDA_DECISION/78770.DOC.
TDS Compensation Agreements With Pac-West Adopted, Resolution T-17118, T-17115 (Items 13, 14, adopted on consent agenda) – This item approves traffic compensation agreements between Pac-West and two TDS companies, Happy Valley Telephone Company and Hornitos Telephone Company. The draft resolutions reflecting those compensation agreements are attached at the following links:
SIGNIFICANT WITHDRAWN ITEM
Commission Staff Authority to File Comments in FCC Pole Attachment Docket (Item 31, withdrawn) – The Commission staff had been seeking authority to file comments on the pole attachment issues on the FCC’s NPRM in its pole attachment proceeding. That NPRM was issued on October 31, 2007, and released on November 20, 2007. The FCC is seeking comment on various implementation issues related to 47 U.S.C. Section 224. The Commission had been considering filing comments in that proceeding, but this item that would have endorsed such comments has been withdrawn.
NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS
Chong Report on Launch of 2-1-1 Dialing in Bay Area – Commissioner Chong reported that she had attended an event celebrating the launch of 2-1-1 dialing in seven bay area counties. 2-1-1 is the three-digit code that allows callers to reach important health and human services, including child care, health care, and suicide hotlines.
This service has been at the forefront of the Commission’s thinking in light of reports about the use of 2-1-1 in the recent Southern California fires. Commissioners Simon and Chong emphasized that 2-1-1 is not intended as a resource during life-threatening emergencies that would require police, fire, or medical responses. Rather, it can provide valuable information about non-life threatening situations associated with times of emergency, such as evacuation timeframes or finding out how to reach loved ones. The Commissioners noted that the consumer education website maintained by the Commission staff will soon be upgraded to include a discussion of how 2-1-1 can be used more effectively.
During the report, Commissioner Chong stated that 2-1-1 is currently available in approximately 80% of the state, but that she would like to see 2-1-1 rolled out in all of the rural areas as well. Commissioner Simon pointed out that there is a funding problem associated with achieving ubiquitous 2-1-1 availability, since the information and referral providers that operate the 2-1-1 system do not have a steady stream of public resources dedicated to their operations. The Commissioners pledged to work with providers to address this problem.
Minkin Report on ADR Program – Chief ALJ Minkin gave a brief management report on the status and progress of the Commission’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program. In 2005, the Commission adopted Resolution ALJ-185, which outlined the Commission’s ADR program. Minkin reported that the program has been quite successful, and that it has helped reduce administrative burdens on the Commission and the parties alike. Minkin acknowledged that settlement is not always possible, but that the Commission was improving its ability to identify disputes that are ripe for settlement. Policy issues, for example, must be addressed by the Commission. Overall, of the 60 cases that have been referred to settlement conference, 67% have reached settlements. Further information about the Commission’s ADR program is provided in the attached powerpoint presentation, which Minkin used as a reference during the meeting: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/NR/rdonlyres/91E44841-0C01-4BFF-9401-F2E461CA10DE/0/ADRReport0208.ppt.