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On June 18, 2009, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) held its regularly scheduled agenda meeting. The auditorium was packed with members of the public concerned about the pending LifeLine proposed decision of Commissioner Chong, which was once again held, this time until the July 9, 2009, meeting. Telecommunications items of significance on the Commission’s agenda are discussed in further detail below.


REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS

  • Transfer of Ownership of Telenational Communications, Inc. to Rapid Link, Inc., Approved (Item 2, adopted on consent agenda) – This item approves the prospective transfer of Telenational Communications, Inc. (“Telenational”), a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (“CPCN”) holder in California, from Apex Acquisitions, Inc. (“Apex”) to Rapid Link, Incorporated (“Rapid Link”), and also imposes a $1,000 fine on the applicants for failure to obtain advance approval of the transfer from the Commission. In 2002, the Commission granted Telenational a CPCN to provide inter- and intra-LATA Services. Based on this decision approving the acquisition of Telenational, that CPCN is subsequently transferred, per the Commission’s approval, to Rapid Link. This decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/102674.doc.

  • Disbursement of Funds Authorized for CEQA Review of Line Extension Grant Project in Siskiyou Telephone Territory (Item 10, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission authorized its Executive Director to enter into a contract for California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) review of the Godfrey Ranch Line Extension Grant Project (“Godfrey Ranch Project”), which is located in The Siskiyou Telephone Company’s service area. The CEQA review contract is estimated to cost $344,000 and, pending the results of the review, a subsequent resolution is expected to consider mitigation required by the review, authorize the proposed grant of $1,823,000 for construction of the Godfrey Ranch Project, authorize the Executive Director to enter into a contract with the Town of Fort Jones for Fiscal Agent services associated with the project, and authorize revisions to the existing line extension tariffs to address the project. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/COMMENT_RESOLUTION/101154.doc.

  • Partial Relief Granted Based on Complaint from Former AT&T Mobility Customer (Item 29, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission granted partial relief to Complainants Charles Ha, along with his parents, Bodja Ha and Pham Ha, excusing them from paying $349.91 for wireless service billed by AT&T Mobility. However, Complainants were not excused from all obligations, and were ordered to pay $282.30 for services received before termination of their account, which the Commission determined was a reasonable amount for services rendered. Apparently a series of miscommunications about features of the two-year service contract occurred after Complainants received their initial bills, and subsequent inquiries with AT&T representatives regarding the charges were not addressed to Complainants’ satisfaction. This decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/102652.doc.

  • Deadline Extended for Resolving Rulemaking Related to Telecommunications Public Policy Programs (Item 33, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission adopted an order extending the deadline for resolving the rulemaking related to its comprehensive review of the Telecommunications Public Policy Programs (R.06-05-028). The Commission has already adopted decisions revising aspects of the payphone-related programs, the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program, and the California Teleconnect Fund. The remaining piece of this proceeding will be a resolution of issues raised regarding the LifeLine program. As discussed herein, the Chong proposed decision on that topic has been held for review since the March 26, 2009, meeting. Although the Commission could adopt a decision related to LifeLine at one of its upcoming meetings, this decision extends the time for resolving this issue until August 17, 2009. This decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/102804.doc.

  • Order Instituting Rulemaking Adopted Addressing Reforms to the California High Cost Fund B Program (Item 48, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission instituted new rulemaking to address reforms to the state’s California High Cost Fund B (“CHCF-B”) program, a program designed to help ensure that basic telephone service is affordable in high cost areas. The specific issues that the rulemaking will address include consideration of a “reverse auction” process to select Carriers of Last Resort (“COLRs”), possible adjustments to support payments to reflect market conditions and changes in demographics, and a further examination of the extent to which the program remains competitively neutral. This new Order Instituting Rulemaking is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/102872.doc.


SIGNIFICANT HELD AND WITHDRAWN ITEMS

  • Resolution Modifying Agency Verification Policies Related to Woman- and Minority- Suppliers Doing Business With Utilities per General Order 156 (Item 15, held by Simon until 7/9/09) – The Commission held a draft resolution that would incorporate a proposal by Commission consultant K&L Gates to streamline the verification process currently in place for woman and minority suppliers (“WMBEs”) doing business with utilities subject to General Order 156 (“G.O. 156”) (the term WMBEs is used for the purpose of this draft resolution rather than “WMDVBEs” because disabled veterans are not covered by its terms). Changes include the ability of WMBEs 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 WMBEs defined as “micro-businesses” under the Government Code; and 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. The Resolution supersedes CSID-001 and portions of D.06-08-031, which, together, contained terms and policies applicable to the WMBE verification process. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/COMMENT_RESOLUTION/101194.doc.

  • Decision Making Fundamental Changes to LifeLine (Item 47, held by Staff until 7/9/09) – The Commission once again held a decision that would revise General Order 133-B (“G.O. 133-B”), which governs service quality measures and standards applicable to telecommunications carriers, through the adoption of new General Order 133-C (“G.O. 133-C”). The proposed decision has been revised from its original form, and further revisions may still be under consideration. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/101856.doc.

  • Decision Adopting Revisions to General Order 133-B (Item 29, held by Simon until 6/18/09) – The Commission held a decision that would revise General Order 133-B (“GO 133-B”), which governs service quality measures and standards applicable to telecommunications carriers, through the adoption of new General Order 133-C (“GO 133-C”). A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/101790.doc.


COMMISSIONER REPORTS

  • Changes in Staffing Within Commissioner Simon’s Office — Commissioner Simon announced that his telecommunications and water advisor, Phyllis White, is departing his office to take the position of Water and Communications Deputy Director with the Division of Ratepayer Advocates. Karen Shea of the Communications Division staff will be taking her place.

  • Peevey Report on Program to Increase Broadband Awareness in Hispanic Communities -– Commissioner Peevey reported that he attended a program in Los Angeles last week aimed at increasing the number of broadband users among California’s Hispanic community. Peevey stated that members of the Hispanic community use broadband at half the rate of other minorities. Commissioner Peevey said efforts to increase awareness of broadband technology will be focused in Los Angeles and other areas of the state where there are significant Hispanic communities, depending on available funding.

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