skip to Main Content

On July 9, 2009, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) held its regularly scheduled agenda meeting. Attendance at the meeting was moderate compared to recent meetings. There were only three public speakers, all of whom spoke to the Commission about the LifeLine issue. Significantly, Commissioner Peevey noted that the proposed decision in the LifeLine proceeding has been withdrawn by Commissioner Chong, who is drafting a new proposed decision that should be available later in the year. On the Commission’s regular agenda, it adopted a new General Order 133-C outlining revised service quality standards and metrics for telecommunications carriers. The Commission also established a new set of deadlines and guidelines for the California Advanced Services Fund (“CASF”) to allow the program to better partner with the grant program initiated by the federal stimulus package. In addition, the Commission approved a CASF grant sought by Mother Lode Broadband and RapidLink to provide broadband in Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties. These and other telecommunications items of significance on the Commission’s agenda are discussed in further detail below.


REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS

  • New General Order 133 Adopted With Revised Service Quality Measures (Item 37, adopted 5-0) – The Commission adopted a new General Order 133-C with revised service quality obligations for carriers. Commissioner Chong introduced the item, noting that whereas GO 133-B only required exception-based reporting, GO 133-C requires affirmative reporting by carriers based on a revised set of metrics. The service quality measures and related standards contained in the new General Order include: (1) telephone service installation intervals (5 business days); (2) installation commitments (95%); (3) customer trouble reports (6 per 100 lines for reporting units with 3,000 or more working lines, and lower standards for smaller units); (4) out of service repair intervals (90% within 24 hours excluding Sundays and federal holidays, catastrophic events and widespread outages); and (5) answer time (80% within 60 seconds related to trouble reports and billing and non-billing issues, with the option to speak to a live agent). These measures apply to General Rate Case (“GRC”) incumbent local exchange carriers (“ILECs”). Uniform Regulatory Framework (“URF”) ILECs and competitive local exchange carriers (“CLECs”) with 5,000 or more customers will be required to report: (1) customer trouble reports; (2) out-of-service repair intervals; and (3) billing, non-billing and trouble report answer time. URF ILECs and CLECs with fewer than 5,000 customers are exempt from the reporting requirements, unless the provider is a carrier of last resort. Also exempt are resellers, wireless carriers, and Internet protocol-enabled carriers, including Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) and IP-based cable service providers.

    In discussing the decision, Commissioner Simon said the Commission will informally seek information from the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) regarding VoIP outages, and Commissioner Bohn voiced concern that the decision did not subject VoIP providers to the same service quality measures and standards as traditional carriers. Commissioner Bohn also stated his dissatisfaction that the only requirement contained in the proposed decision for wireless carriers is the provision of coverage maps on their websites and at retail locations. Commissioner Grueneich noted that she was disappointed that a decision relating to customer satisfaction surveys was deferred pending the outcome of an FCC determination of what customer satisfaction data should be obtained for all service platforms. Both Commissioners Simon and Grueneich reserved the right to file concurrences to the proposed decision. A recent draft of the proposed decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/103615.doc .

  • New Filing Plan Adopted for Broadband “Federal Matching” Project Requests Under CASF Program (Item 38, adopted 5-0) – The Commission adopted a new schedule and plan for filing, review, and approval of an additional round of broadband project requests under the CASF program. The new schedule is in addition to the schedule for review and award of broadband grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“ARRA”), which will provide $7.2 billion in grants and loans for broadband development nationally. The new schedule applies to filings for both unserved and underserved areas, with priority given to unserved areas. Applicants for CASF grants who are concurrently seeking ARRA funding will be required to provide a match of 10% of the project cost, and such projects are eligible for matching funds of up to 10% of the project cost from CASF money on the condition that the remaining 80% of the project cost is provided by ARRA money. ARRA funds will be awarded by September of 2010, with a two-year time frame for project completion. The first round of ARRA applications will be submitted between July and September of 2009, with the first awards made during the fourth quarter of 2009. The deadline for submitting priority applications for CASF funds is July 17, 2009, which will enable the Commission to coordinate with the ARRA schedule. The first round of these CASF matching applications will be considered at the Commission’s second regular agenda meeting in September. CASF applications submitted between July 18 and August 14, 2009, will receive second priority, and will be considered at the second CPUC agenda meeting in October 2009. On July 10, 2009 and July 13, 2009, the Commission has two workshops scheduled to further explain the schedule for CASF applications and the relationship with the ARRA deadlines. This decision is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/WORD_PDF/FINAL_DECISION/104225.DOC.

  • CASF Funds Granted for Mother Lode Broadband Project, Resolution T-17197 (Item 40, adopted 5-0) – The Commission adopted funding from the CASF totalling $2,771,341 for the Mother Lode Broadband Project of Telenational Communications Inc./Rapid Link Inc. and Mother Lode Internet. The Mother Lode project will provide wireless broadband service in currently “unserved areas” of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties. The Commission’s Communications Division Director Jack Leutza introduced the item, noting that a competing offer was initially submitted by Golden State Cellular and a consortium of Small LECs. Leutza concluded that based on criteria such as speed, pricing, and service of low-income households, the Mother Lode project scored higher than the alternate project, and therefore the Mother Lode project was selected for funding by the Commission. Commissioner Chong offered her support for the project, emphasizing that the project will bring broadband wireless to 14,629 households that have not had access to high-speed internet. She also indicated that this grant brings the total of broadband monies granted under the CASF to $12.3 million. Resolution T-17197 is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/WORD_PDF/FINAL_RESOLUTION/104195.DOC.

  • Order Instituting Rulemaking Issued to Revise Requirements for Registration of Non-Dominant Interexchange Carriers (Item 39, adopted 5-0) – The Commission initiated a proceeding to revise the requirements established by D.97-06-107 for registration of non-dominant interexchange carriers (“NDIECs”), including those that provide long distance, high-speed data services, operator services, and prepaid debit card services. Issues to be addressed by the proceeding include whether a performance bond should be required as a condition of registration; whether registration certificates should be granted for a limited duration, and registrants be required to prove good standing as a condition for renewal or transfer of the certificates; whether fingerprints, criminal background checks and/or other showings should be required for registration applicants; whether registration applicants should be subject to expanded fiscal and civil responsibility checks; and whether the nominal $75 application fee should be increased. The proceeding is expected to be completed within 18 months. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/102726.doc.

  • URF Reporting Obligations Clarified Based on Verizon Petition for Modification (Item 10, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission approved a petition for modification of D.08-09-015 clarifying that Verizon California Inc. does not need to prepare and file California-specific information derived from the Federal Communication Commission’s Automated Reporting Management Information System (“ARMIS”) Reports 43-04, 495A and 495B. This decision was based on the Commission’s determination that AT&T and Verizon should be subject to uniform regulatory treatment relative to their competitors, and the fact that the FCC had granted forbearance from the ARMIS requirements based on a request from AT&T. This decision is available at: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/WORD_PDF/FINAL_DECISION/104152.DOC.

  • Modifications Adopted to Agency Verification Policies Related to Woman- and Minority- Suppliers Doing Business With Utilities Per General Order 156, Res. Exec-001 (Item 3, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission adopted a resolution that incorporates a proposal by Commission consultant K&L Gates into the verification process currently in place for woman- and minority-owned suppliers doing business with utilities subject to General Order 156 (“G.O. 156”). Changes include the ability of these suppliers to complete the supplier verification application online, with the understanding that certain hard-copy documents must still be submitted; a fast-track application process for suppliers defined as “micro-businesses” under the Government Code; and the elimination of requirements to submit “all stock certificates issues” and “executed supplier agreements.” The Resolution also adopts a pilot program with a streamlined application process for applicants with a verification certificate from either the National Minority Supplier Development Council or the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council demonstrating that the business meets certain requirements related to minority ownership and control. Resolution Exec-001 supersedes Resolution CSID-001 and portions of D.06-08-031, which, together, contained terms and policies applicable to the verification process. A recent draft of this Resolution is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/103989.doc.

  • Statutory Deadlines Extended in Adjudicatory Cases Involving XO Communications and CommPartners (Items 14 and 18, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission extended the 12-month statutory deadlines in two unrelated adjudicatory proceedings. The first proceeding was filed on June 15, 2008, by XO Communications Services, Inc., (“XO”), which alleges that Fones4All Corporation (“Fones4All”) owes XO for switching and transport services related to the migration of Fones4All’s customers to AT&T California and Telscape Communications, Inc. Fones4All filed for bankruptcy protection in August 2008, which automatically stayed the case. The Commission therefore extended the 12-month statutory deadline for resolving the proceeding for 180 days to accommodate the stay. The second proceeding was filed on January 14, 2008, by CommPartners, LLC, which alleges that AT&T California, Inc., has refused to disconnect E911 trunks provided by AT&T, while continuing to charge CommPartners for use of the trunks. The statutory deadline has already been extended once in this proceeding, and a second 90-day extension from the issuance of the order is issued given the complexity of the issues involved. Recent drafts of these decisions are available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/102451.doc and http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/102612.doc.

  • Western Wireless Granted Authority to Rescind Designation as ETC, Res. T-17188 (Item 17, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission adopted a resolution granting a request by WWC, LLC (“Western Wireless”), to rescind its designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (“ETC”) in AT&T service territories in Imperial County. Western Wireless was originally designated an ETC in substantial parts of Inyo and Mono counties in June 2000, and was subsequently granted ETC status in Imperial County on May 6, 2004. Western Wireless has not received any LifeLine support from the FCC since being granted ETC status in Inyo, Mono and Imperial Counties, but has received federal high cost support. Customers served by Western Wireless will continue to receive service through Verizon Wireless, which acquired Western Wireless in January 2009. Western Wireless had previously been acquired by Alltel Corporation, which was then acquired by Verizon. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/102596.doc.

  • Intervenor Compensation Funding Awarded to Consumer Federation of California and The Utility Reform Network (Items 28 and 29, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission awarded the Consumer Federation of California $74,464 for its contributions to D.08-10-016, which addressed the improvement of services and promotion of consumers for telecommunications customers in California who do not speak fluent English or are limited English proficient. The Commission also awarded $79,104 to The Utility Reform Network (“TURN”) for contributions to D.08-10-016 and D.07-07-043, both of which address issues related to customers with limited English proficiency. Recent drafts of these decisions are available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/102415.doc and http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/102454.doc.


SIGNIFICANT HELD AND WITHDRAWN ITEMS

  • Decision Authorizing Transfer of Ownership of TGEC Communications Co. (Item 23, held by staff until 7/30/09) – The Commission held a decision that would transfer of ownership of TGEC Communications Co., LLC, a California limited liability company (“TGEC”) from Pacific Centrex Services, Inc., a California corporation, to West Cost Voice & Data, Inc., a Nevada corporation (“West Coast”). Under the proposed decision, TGEC will continue to provide services in California as a wholly-owned subsidiary of West Coast, and therefore the parties are not seeking to transfer TGEC’s operating authority in connection with the transaction. TGEC is a certified telecommunications provider in California, and is authorized to provide long distance resale authority, local exchange resale authority, facilities-based local exchange authority, and facilities-based long distance authority in California. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/102847.doc.

  • Decision Making Fundamental Changes to LifeLine (Item 36, withdrawn) – The Commission withdrew a decision that would make fundamental changes to the LifeLine program, including de-linking California LifeLine from the AT&T basic rate structure, and setting out a specific support discount available without regard to the telecommunication provider or technology of service selected. Commissioner Chong is preparing a revised proposed decision, which should be available later in the year. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/102576.doc.


NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS

  • Workshops to Discuss CASF/ARRA Funding Deadlines and Processes — Commissioner Chong announced that there would be a workshop on July 10, 2009, at 10 a.m. at in the Commission’s auditorium giving an overview of the application process related to funds that will be distributed for broadband projects through the CASF and ARRA. A second workshop will be held in Southern California on Monday, July 13, 2009, at the City Hall in Whittier. The July 10, 2009, meeting will be available remotely by webcast and dial-in. Additional information on the workshops is available at http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/stimulus.

Linked Attorney(s)

Back To Top