On Thursday, June 4, 2009, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly scheduled agenda meeting. Both the LifeLine proposed decision and the proposed decision to address modifications to G.O. 133 were held. Aside from the usual flurry of public comments on LifeLine issues, it was a quiet day for the telecommunications side of the house. The telecommunications items of significance on the Commission’s most recent agenda are discussed in further detail below.


  • CPUC Offers Support for Assembly Bill Related to Disposition of Utility Property Under Section 851 (Item 31, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission voted to support Assembly Bill 698, which would expedite the Commission’s approval process under Public Utilities Code Section 851 with respect to the sale, lease and other encumbrance or disposition of utility property for transactions valued under $5,000,000, thereby significantly reducing the time for approval of certain transactions without undermining the Commission’s California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) obligations or adversely impacting public utility rates. A recent copy of the Commission’s memorandum explaining its support, as well as a copy of the bill, is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/REPORT/101442.doc.

  • CPUC Offers Support for Senate Bill Related to Operation of “211” System (Item 38, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission voted to support Senate Bill 712, which would codify the Commission’s authority to evaluate and approve requests from information referral service providers seeking to use the “211” abbreviated dialing code. The bill also would require such providers to comply with orders from the Commission and FCC related to “211” service, and would designate the state Health and Human Services Agency as the lead entity responsible for implementing “211” services throughout the state. The supporters of the bill hope that it will create more coordinated oversight and consistency surrounding the 211 system, and ultimately, the supporters believe that this effort will provide for more ubiquitous implementation of 211 within the state of California. A recent copy of the Commission’s memorandum explaining its decision, as well as a copy of the bill, is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/REPORT/101666.doc.

  • Settlement Approved and CPCN Granted for Access Integrated Networks (Item 13, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission approved a settlement between Access Integrated Networks, Inc. dba Birch Communications (“Access”) and the Commission’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division (“CPSD”) related to Access’s failure to disclose certain information in its application seeking permission to conduct business as a resale and facilities-based provider of local telecommunications services in California. CPSD filed a protest to Access’s application asserting that it failed to disclose that Birch Telecom, Inc., a company that Access had acquired, had been in bankruptcy prior to the filing of Access’s application; and that Access had been sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) for violations of consumer rules. The settlement reached by the parties provides for Access’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (“CPCN”) to be granted, but also requires that Access admit that its initial application violated Rule 1.1 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure; that Access pay a fine of $10,000 for its violation; and that Access notify the CPSD in the event that it commences selling communications services in California through any type of telemarketing operation. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/101117.doc.

  • Disability Rights Advocates Awarded Intervenor Compensation for Participation in Backup Power / Emergency Notification Proceeding (Item 20, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission awarded Disability Rights Advocates $103,682 in compensation for contributions to D.09-09-014, a decision in the Commission’s proceeding addressing backup power and emergency notification systems. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/101121.doc.


  • Decision Making Fundamental Changes to LifeLine (Item 28, held by staff until 6/18/09) – The Commission held for the fourth time a decision that would make fundamental changes to the LifeLine program, including de-linking California LifeLine from the AT&T basic rate structure, setting out a specific support discount at 55 percent of the highest basic rate of the state’s communications companies without regard to the telecommunication provider or technology of service selected, expanding the LifeLine program to include data services for consumers who receive wireless equipment through the Commission’s Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program, clarifying that wireless carriers may be reimbursed by LifeLine for providing discounted service to customers, modifying the income-based criteria to match the low-income energy program (CARE) income-based criteria on an interim basis, and modifying the manner in which bad debt and administrative support is handled under the LifeLine program. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/101377.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 Chong reminded the public that June 12, 2009, is the final date for transition to digital television. For more information on how to make the transition, she recommended that the public visit www.dtv.gov.


  • Executive Director Paul Clanon reported on various awards received by the Commission over the past few months, including two Graphic Design USA awards for energy brochures and five State Information Officers’ Council awards for public outreach and dissemination of information, including an award for a guest column on the digital TV transition authorized by Commissioner Chong and a speech on climate change and water resources delivered by Commission Bohn.

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