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On Thursday, June 23, 2011, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. It was a short meeting, but there were some significant telecommunications items.

Notably, on the Tuesday before the meeting, the Commission withdrew the proposed Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR) into the status of telecommunications competition in California and its implications for regulatory policies.  Many of the issues will be considered in connection with the separate proceeding recently instituted to consider the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

These and other items of interest on the Commission’s public agenda are discussed in further detail below.


REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS


  • OIR to Consider Modifications to CASF, Including Implementation of Process Related to Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Account Grants
    (Item 41, adopted 5-0 on regular agenda) – This Decision implements the provisions of Senate Bill (SB) 1040 relating to the Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Grant Account. The Consortia funding program administered by the Commission will provide grants to regional consortium in several underserved geographic regions. The Commission itself will not organize Consortia; it will select eligible Consortia from among those submitting applications, with the Consortium applicants to assemble their own membership and delineate their geographical areas of responsibility.    The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
     
  • $13,061,002 in California Advanced Services Fund Grant Awards for Broadband Projects Revoked 
    (Item 13, adopted on consent agenda) – This Resolution reverses California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) awards for nine projects, releasing corresponding CASF matching funds totaling $13,061,002, and making the corresponding census block groups (CBG) available to new applicants (with the exception of two CBGs in which the proposed project was completed without the CASF funding). The projects included AT&T’s Irwin and Oakdale Projects, Carmel and Madera Acres Projects, Siskiyou Telephone Company’s Seiad Valley Project, and four projects for companies that did not secure American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funding (The University Corporation at Monterey Bay Central Coast Broadband Consortium, the Nevada County Economic Resource Council, the Siskiyou County Economic Development Council, and Redwood Telephone, LLC). The Resolution rescinds the CASF resolutions and grant awards for those projects, and now makes those funds available to new applicants for the specified CBGs. The Draft Resolution for this item is available here.
     
  • Commission Policy Deducting FCC’s Program Support or Discount from Total California Teleconnect Fund Service Charges Incurred by Non-Profits and Rural Health Care Providers  
    (Item 42, adopted on regular agenda) – This Resolution adopts a policy that deducts the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate program support or discount from the total California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) service charges incurred by qualifying rural health care providers and non-profit community based organizations, before computing the 50% CTF discount on the remaining amount. The policy is intended to address a concern that the supported organizations may be receiving subsidies from both state and federal universal service/health care programs that may exceed their monthly recurring costs for CTF-eligible services. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
     
  • Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Granted to Central Telecom Long Distance, Inc.
    (Item 20, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision approves Central Telecom Long Distance, Inc.’s application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for authority to provide resold commercial local exchange and interexchange services in the service territories of Pacific Bell Telephone Company, d/b/a/ AT&T California (AT&T), Verizon California Inc. (Verizon), SureWest Telephone (SureWest), and Citizens Telecommunications Company of California, Inc., d/b/a Frontier Communications of California (Frontier), and as a non-dominant interexchange carrier throughout California. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
     
  • Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Granted to Plumas Sierra Telecommunications
    (Item 28, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants Plumas Sierra Telecommunications (Plumas) a CPCN to provide full facilities-based competitive local exchange, access, and interexchange services in the service territories of AT&T, Verizon, SureWest and Frontier, specifically within the counties of Plumas, Sierra and Lassen, and adopts a final mitigated negative declaration pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Plumas plans to build a fiber optic open access network traversing through parts of Plumas, Sierra and Lassen Counties. While Plumas will not initially offer any local exchange voice or any voice services, the services will be provided over facilities owned by Plumas’ parent company, unbundled loops of local incumbent telecommunications providers, and interexchange facilities owned by other certified carriers, as well as in local service areas where the parent company does not have any such facilities. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
     
  • Statutory Deadline to Resolve Phase 2 of the Safety Infrastructure Proceeding Extended Until September 6, 2011
    (Item 25, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision extends the statutory deadline to resolve Phase 2 of the safety infrastructure proceeding – a proceeding designed to improve fire safety by adopting further rules applicable to communications and energy utilities – until September 2, 2011 (R.08-11-005). The Proposed Decision in Phase 2 of that proceeding was issued two weeks ago, and the comment phase is open. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here
     
  • Verizon California’s Requests for Permission to Deviate From Undergrounding Rules Along Scenic Highway 1 in Santa Barbara County Granted, Scenic Highway 74 in Riverside County Denied (
    Items 14, 17 and 18, adopted on consent agenda) – These Resolutions grant Verizon California Inc.’s (Verizon) requests to deviate from Public Utilities Code § 320 which requires undergrounding of communications facilities within 1,000 feet of a scenic highway.
     
    • In Item 14, Verizon requested the deviation (after construction) for approximately 16,917 feet of aerial facilities along Highway 1 near the towns of Las Cruces and Lompoc, and the Commission’s Draft Resolution grants the request but imposes a $5,000 penalty on Verizon for violating § 320. The Draft Resolution underlying this item is available here.
       
    • In Item 17, the Commission denies, in part, Verizon’s request for a deviation concerning three separate placements along Scenic Highway 74 in Riverside County. The Draft Resolution orders Verizon to underground existing overhead distribution facilities and to implement a plan for future construction of overhead distribution facilities. The Draft Resolution underlying this item is available here.
       
    • In Item 18, Verizon requested the deviation (after construction) for a portion of aerial facilities along Scenic Highway 243 in Riverside County. The Draft Resolution approves Verizon’s request for deviation but imposes a $5,000 penalty for violating § 320. There is no Draft Resolution available for this item.
       
  • Transfer of Control from E.Kit.Com, Inc. to JT Group Limited
    (Item 24, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants the application of eKit.com, Inc. (eKit) and JT Group Limited (JTG) for authorization to transfer control of eKit, a California certificated telecommunications carrier, to JTG, through its subsidiaries Jersey Telecom (UK) Limited (JTUK) and Jersey Telecom, Inc. eKit holds a CPCN allowing it to operate as a limited facilities-based interexchange carrier in California, and JTG does not (nor does JTG directly provide telecommunications services in the United States. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here


SIGNIFICANT HELD OR WITHDRAWN TELECOMMUNICATION ITEMS


  • OIR to Evaluate the Status of Telecommunications Competition in California and its Implications for Regulatory Policies (Item 40, withdrawn) – This OIR would have begun proceedings to examine the current state of telecommunications competition in California. The draft OIR relies on language from D.06-08-030, where the Commission found that “there is a need to remain vigilant in monitoring the communications marketplace.” The Commission would also seek comment on the Communications Division’s Market Share Analysis of Retail Communication in California from 2001-2009, and on current market and technological developments affecting California communications markets. The goal of the proposed rulemaking would have been to determine the implications of these developments for California’s regulatory policies for communications markets, including making any necessary adjustments to the URF structure. The draft OIR associated with this item is available here
     
  • OIR to Revise the Certification Process for Telephone Corporations and the Registrations Process for Wireless Resellers (Item 11, held to July 14, 2011 by Staff) – This Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR) would open a rulemaking to revise the requirements for telephone corporations seeking CPCNs under Public Utilities Code Section 1001, and commercial mobile radio telephone service providers (CMRS) seeking wireless reseller identification (WIR) registration under prior Commission decisions. No draft OIR was made available in connection with this item. 
     
  • Negative Declaration Adopted for Central Valley Independent Network’s ARRA/CASF-Funded Broadband Project (Item 21, held by Commissioner Ferron for further review to July 14, 2011) – This Resolution adopts the final initial study and Negative Declaration under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) prepared for Central Valley Independent Network (CVIN), in partnership with the Corporation for Education network Initiatives in California (CENIC)’s project to plan and install a fiber optic communications network in portions of California. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here


MANAGEMENT AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS


Commissioner reports were primarily focused on new staff additions.
 

  • Commissioner Florio announced that Sepideh Khosrowjah will be joining his office as Chief of Staff, with Matthew Tisdale on energy and water policy, and Marcelo Poirier as his rotational legal advisor.
     
  • Commissioner Simon noted that Lauren Saine will be joining his office as his communications and water advisor, and Bishu Chatterjee will be his rotational energy advisor.
     
  • Commissioner Sandoval announced that Ditas Katague will be joining her as Chief of Staff, Collete Herston as her energy advisor, Melissa Slawson as her telecom advisor, and Stephen St. Marie as her gas and water advisor.
     
  • Commissioner Ferron announced that Charlotte TerKeurst would be joining his office as Chief of Staff. 
     
  • Chief ALJ Clopton announced three new administrative law judges had been appointed from within the Commission – Kelly Hymes, Steve Roscow, and Melissa Semcer.

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