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On Thursday, July 10, 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The meeting was brief, and featured only a few telecommunications-related items. Notably, the Commission adopted a decision resolving Phase III of its video franchising proceeding. This and other items of interest discussed during the most recent Commission meeting are addressed in further detail below.


REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS

  • Phase III Decision Adopted in Video Franchising Proceeding (Item 3, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision concludes Phase III of the Commission’s proceeding to implement the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006 (DIVCA), and modifies General Order 169 in three respects. First, the General Order now specifies that requests for extension of the build-out requirements under DIVCA will be processed through the Commission’s established application procedures rather than through the more ministerial process established for handling video franchise applications and amendments. Second, General Order 169 now caps the state video franchise holder bonding requirement at $500,000 per corporate family even if franchises are held by different entities within a given corporate family. Third, the Commission will now require the annual submission of broadband speed data organized by FCC-designated broadband speed tiers.

    With the conclusion of Phase III, the state video franchising proceeding is closed. A recent draft of the Phase III decision is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/84928.doc.

  • SureWest Request for ETC Designation in Elk Grove Denied, Resolution T-17129 (Item 4, adopted on consent agenda) – This resolution rejects the request of SureWest TeleVideo, dba. SureWest Broadband to be designated as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier in a portion of the Elk Grove area served by Frontier Communications. SureWest’s advice letter seeking ETC status proposed that it be designed as an ETC in its own footprint, an area that spans three Frontier wire centers, but does not completely encompass any of them. In response to a Frontier protest of the advice letter, the Commission found that SureWest’s failure to serve the whole wire center areas in which it was seeking ETC status was incompatible with the federal ETC requirements, and the Commission’s implementation of those requirements in Resolution T-17002 and other authorities. The resolution also orders Frontier to provide updated information to the Universal Service Administrative Company regarding its disaggregated wire center boundaries. A recent draft of the resolution is available at the attached link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/85031.doc.

  • Ponderosa Telephone Granted Permission to Take on $27 Million in RUS Loans Loans (Item 11, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision grants Ponderosa Telephone’s request under Public Utilities Code Sections 818 and 851 for authority to undertake indebtedness to the Rural Utilities Service Administrator in the amount of $27,288,000. The loan money will be used to purchase electronic equipment, and to finance various network improvements. A recent draft of the decision approving loan is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/84984.doc.

  • Voluntary Withdrawal of Complaint by Neutral Tandem Against Level 3 Approved (Item 16, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision approves the voluntary withdrawal of a complaint by Neutral Tandem California, LLC against Level 3 Communications in light of a settlement between the parties. Neutral Tandem’s complaint had alleged that Level 3 had violated the anti-discrimination requirements in the California Public Utilities Code based on its refusal to offer the rates for tandem transit termination traffic that Level 3 offers to Neutral Tandem. The parties had been litigating this issue not only in California, but in other states as well. The parties have reached a satisfactory settlement such that Neutral Tandem sought voluntary withdrawal of its complaint. The final decision approving this withdrawal is attached hereto at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/WORD_PDF/FINAL_DECISION/85091.DOC.


NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS

  • DRA Deputy Director Aaron Johnson Leaving DRA for PG&E — Aaron Johnson, a Deputy Director of the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, will be leaving the Commission for a position at PG&E. Several of the Commissioners offered laudatory comments regarding Mr. Johnson’s work at the Commission. Commissioner Peevey reflected that when he came to the Commission and Mr. Johnson was working for then-President Loretta Lynch, he “never could have imagined” that he would one day work for PG&E. Commissioner Simon observed that this sort of “cross-pollenization” in hiring between the Commission and the utilities shows that the regulators and the utilities are on the same page regarding their commitment to faithfully addressing the types of issues that arise in regulated industries.

  • Commissioners Offer Further Support for Commission Diversity Programs — In a series of Commissioner reports, several of the Commissioners offered support for various efforts that are ongoing to promote diversity. Commissioner Simon mentioned that on July 8th, he attended an event entitled “New Connections III,” in which utilities and WMDVBE-eligible businesses in the insurance industry met to discuss common goals, including how to work together to promote diversity in that industry. Simon also mentioned a recent meeting of the CaAAL group, which is undertaking to address the “pipeline problem” amongst minority populations by promoting educational and diversity-related initiatives in the K-12 context. Commissioner Chong offered strong support for this effort, noting that utilities need to step to the plate to let the Commission know what their commitments are to the pipeline project.

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