On March 22, 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The Commission resolved a long-standing dispute between AT&T California and XO Communications Services, Inc. regarding cross-connection services provided to XO and prices for such cross-connection. TelePacific withdrew its request to transfer its customer base and assets to IXCH. YourTel also withdrew its request for “LifeLine only” ETC designation in URF company territories. In addition, the Commission authorized comment on issues in the recent FCC LifeLine/Linkup Order (FCC 12-11). These and other items of interest on the Commission’s agenda are addressed below.
REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS
- CPUC Authorizes Comments in FCC Proceeding Regarding Reform and Modernization of LifeLine and Link Up Reform
(Item 53, adopted on consent agenda) – This item authorizes the Commission’s Legal Division to provide the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) comments in a proceeding regarding comprehensive reform and modernization of the federal Lifeline and Link Up program, in relation to proposals under the National Broadband Plan, from the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Specifically, the comments will: (1) raise concerns regarding the privacy and cost implications of a national database of eligibility for LifeLine; (2) urge the FCC to wait until after completion of the Broadband Pilot Program before it decides whether to use Universal Service Fund money to pay for digital literacy training; (3) support the FCC’s proposal that if both wholesaler and reseller are ETCs, then only the ETC directly serving the Lifeline subscriber should be able to seek reimbursement from the Lifeline Fund; (4) support the addition of recipients of Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) to the list of qualifying federal assistance programs for LifeLine; and (5) oppose an AT&T Proposal that the FCC allow incumbent wireline Lifeline Providers to choose whether to participate in the federal Lifeline Program. A copy of the Memorandum associated with this item is available here.
- Rates Established for Cross-Connections Via AT&T’s Main Distribution Frame Between XO Communications Services, Inc. and AT&T California
(Item 50, adopted on consent agenda) – In prior decisions, the Commission had held that Pacific Bell Telephone Company d/b/a AT&T California (AT&T California) must provide cross-connection services to XO Communications Services, Inc. (XO), including cables between collocation cages and main distribution frames, at total element long-run incremental cost (TELRIC) rates. The issue in dispute between the parties was what rate AT&T could charge XO for cross-connection – AT&T California interpreted its interconnection agreement (ICA) and federal law as permitting it to charge rates established in its federal special access tariff, and XO interpreted the ICA and related federal requirements as requiring AT&T California to provide cross-connection at TELRIC rates. XO particularly disputed the legality of AT&T California’s Mileage Transport Fee. AT&T petitioned to modify the Commission’s underlying decisions, arguing that neither the ICA nor the state tariff covers cross-connects via AT&T’s main distribution frame (MDF), that AT&T can choose what type of cross-connect it will allow, and that AT&T does not have to provide any cross-connect if AT&T allows the competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) to provide its own. AT&T argued that there is nothing in the ICA for the Commission to enforce, and the applicable rate must be the federal tariff under which XO originally ordered the service (not the lower TELRIC rates argued for by XO).
This Decision concludes that the ICA between XO and AT&T provides XO with the right to cross-connects between XO’s and other competitive local exchange carriers’ collocated equipment via AT&T’s MDF, and that the applicable rate for the cross-connects via the MDF is the federal Total Element Long Run Incremental Cost rate set forth in the ICA. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Gores AC Holdings, LLC to Acquire Control of First Communications, Inc.
(Item 3, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants the joint application of First Communications, LLC (FC), Globalcom, Inc., Xtension Services, Inc. and Gores AC Holdings, LLC (Gores) for Gores to acquire FC, and indirectly to acquire control of the associated operating companies. The Gores Group is a private investment firm that focuses its investments on opportunities in the technology and telecommunications sectors. FC is authorized to provide local, private line, and/or long distance services to both business and residential customers in 49 states. A copy of the Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Wilcon Holdings, LLC to Acquire Control of Wilshire Connection, LLC and NTC Network, LLC.
(Item 22, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants the unopposed application to transfer control of Wilshire Connection, LLC (Wilshire) and its wholly-owned subsidiary NTC Network, LLC (NTC), both California certified telecommunications carriers, to Wilcon Holdings, LLC. Wilshire and NTC provide “last-mile” transport and interconnection facilities between multiple collocation facilities and carrier hotels in the downtown Los Angeles area for use by telecommunications carriers, internet access providers, and other high bandwith users. A copy of the Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- DigiJack Corporation Granted Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
(Item 23, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants DigiJack Corporation (DigiJack) a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to provide resold and limited facilities-based competitive local exchange and interexchange services in the service territories of Pacific Bell Telephone Company dba AT&T California (AT&T), Verizon California Inc. (Verizon), Citizens Telecommunications Company of California, Inc. dba Frontier Communications of California (Frontier), and SureWest Telephone (SureWest). A copy of the Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- West Corporation, LLC to Acquire Indirect Control of HyperCube Telecom, LLC
(Item 24, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants the joint application of West Corporation (West) and HyperCube Telecom, LLC (HyperCube) to allow West to acquire indirect control of HyperCube. West does not presently conduct business in California except through its subsidiaries, and does not hold any telecommunications regulatory authority. HyperCube is authorized to provide local and interexchange service on a resale and limited facilities basis. A copy of the Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
SIGNIFICANT HELD ITEMS
- Disposition of TelePacific’s Advice Letter 314
(Items 51 and 51A, withdrawn) – On Tuesday, March 20, 2012, U.S. TelePacific withdrew Advice Letter 314 regarding its proposed acquisition of the assets and the proposed transfer of the customer base and CPCN of IXC Holdings, Inc. (IXCH) by TelePacific’s wholly-owned subsidiary, TelePacific Managed Services. The Advice Letter had been the subject of a protest by Straitshot RC LLC and Straitshot Communications, Inc. (collectively, Straitshot), claiming that TelePacific failed to disclose that it was involved in pending litigation with IXCH, and raising concerns that the proposed acquisition of assets might impair its ability to recover an eventual judgment against IXCH. After significant discussions at the January 12, 2012 meeting, the Commission again held consideration of two alternate Draft Resolutions addressing this Advice Letter.
- YourTel America Inc.’s Request to Be Designated as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier in California
(Item 2, withdrawn) – This Draft Resolution would have designated YourTel America Inc. (YourTel), a wireless reseller, as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) to provide federal Lifeline and Link-Up services throughout California excluding territories served by the Small Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers. YourTel withdrew its request. A copy of the Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
- Comments Before the FCC Regarding U.S. Telecom Association Petition Requesting that the FCC Forbear from Enforcing Certain “legacy telecommunications regulations”
(Item 54, withdrawn) – This Draft Resolution would have allowed CPUC Staff authority to file comments on the United States Telecom Association petition at the FCC pursuant to section 10 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, requesting that the FCC forbear from enforcing certain “legacy telecommunications regulations.” There was no Memorandum associated with this item.
- Senate Bill 1160 (Padilla) Regarding Intentional Service Disruption
(Item 67, held to April 19, 2012) – This Bill would provide that a person who owns, operates or controls facilities for providing telecommunications service that interconnects with the public switched telephone network shall not intentionally interrupt, suspend or disconnect service to a particular user or to a geographic area, except as specified. There is no Legislative Subcommittee Memorandum or specific recommendation associated with this item.
SIGNIFICANT ENERGY ITEMS
- CPUC Acts to Reduce Service Disconnections in PG&E and SCE Service Areas
(Item 42, adopted 5-0 on regular agenda) – This Decision approved several measures to reduce the number of residential gas and electric customer service disconnections due to nonpayment by customers in the service areas of Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Southern California Edison. A copy of the Proposed Decision is available here.
- CPUC Approval of SCE Power Plant Ends Regulated Utility Ownership of Coal-Fired Plants in California
(Item 9, adopted 5-0 on regular agenda) – This Decision approves Southern California Edison’s request to sell its interest in the Four Corners Generating Station (a coal-fired plant in New Mexico), thus ending SCE’s coal-fired generation ownership. President Peevey stated: “with today’s decision, we close a chapter in California for our regulated utilities and their ownership interest in coal-fired generation facilities. Senate Bill 1368 mandated greenhouse gas emissions performance standards and SCE is furthering those objectives by divesting its ownership share in Four Corners. SCE ratepayers will be the beneficiaries of the gains on the sale of this asset and all Californians will benefit as the state takes one more step closer to reduced greenhouse gases and a cleaner environment.” The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS
- Commissioner Sandoval spoke of her participation in a recent California Emerging Technology Fund Workshop in Los Angeles, which brought together grantees and experts in variety of fields. She spoke of need to integrate some of energy issues with the telecom issues. For example, CETF has worked to bridge the digital divide by providing greater access to broadband and computers (a telecommunication issue), but has not distributed a surge protectors to protect the computers that would be necessary to access that broadband (an energy issue).