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On Thursday, November 1, 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The meeting was brief, but it did address a variety of telecommunications-related items. The Commission issued a resolution penalizing AT&T for failing to meet “out of service” repair intervals during 2006. The Commission also resolved informal rate cases for Kerman Telephone Company and Volcano Telephone Company, and issued a further grant pursuant to the Rural Infrastructure Grant Program to the Iowa Hill project in Placer County. Further information about these and other items addressed during the November 1, 2007 meeting is provided below.


REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS

  • AT&T Penalized for Non-Compliance with Initial Out of Service Standards for 2006, Res. T-17120 (Item 37, adopted 5-0) – This resolution penalizes AT&T for three months in which it was out of compliance with standards for initial out of service (“IOOS”) and repeat out of service (“ROOS”) repair intervals. In CPUC Decision 01-12-021, the Commission established average repair thresholds that AT&T must meet with regard to IOOS and ROOS. For IOOS, AT&T must demonstrate that, on average, it repairs initial out of service instances within 29.3 hours, and that it corrects repeat instances within 39.4 hours. AT&T’s failure to meet these standards in any given month subjects it to a $300,000 penalty. During 2006, AT&T failed to meet the IOOS and ROOS standards during three months. This decision therefore levies a $900,000 penalty against AT&T.

    Communications Division Director Jack Leutza introduced this item by discussing the history of these IOOS and ROOS requirements. The standards were set in 2001 due to concerns that AT&T’s repair service was deteriorating. D.01-12-021 established benchmarks for IOOS and ROOS, but it also recognized that the requirements would not apply during months where a state of emergency has been declared. Leutza then explained that, as to the 2006 response times, AT&T seeks an exception as to the months of January, February, March, and April, since weather-related states of emergency were declared in California during those months. AT&T also seeks exceptions for May and June based on the residual effects of those emergencies. Further, AT&T seeks adjustments to the figures presented in its year 2006 compliance filing to account for circumstances where customers requested longer repair intervals than the required intervals.

    This resolution grants AT&T’s requested exemptions for the months of January through May, and also grants AT&T’s proposal to exclude situations where customer requests lengthened the repair times. However, even with these adjustments, AT&T still failed to meet the benchmark for the months of June, July, and December. Accordingly, the resolution applies a $300,000 per month penalty to AT&T. The final resolution is available at the attached link: http://162.15.7.24/WORD_PDF/FINAL_RESOLUTION/74868.DOC.

  • United Way Granted Authority to Operate as 2-1-1 Dialing Provider in Fresno County, Res. T-17109 (Item 19, adopted on consent agenda) – This resolution grants the advice letter request of the United Way of Fresno County to use the 2-1-1 abbreviated dialing code to provide information and referral services in Fresno County. Carrier proposals for 2-1-1 origination service are expected be submitted over the next two months. The final resolution is available at the following link: http://162.15.7.24/word_pdf/FINAL_RESOLUTION/74899.doc.

  • Volcano Telephone Company Rate Case Resolution Adopted, T-17108 (Item 1, adopted on consent agenda) – This resolution resolves the informal rate case filed by Volcano Telephone Company. The resolution establishes Volcano’s rate base for test year 2008, and adopts an overall rate of return of 10%. Volcano will receive $1,985,385 in support from the California High Cost Fund A (“CHCF-A”). Volcano also received authority to grandfather its private line services and make associated tariff adjustments. This resolution is available at the attached link: http://162.15.7.24/WORD_PDF/FINAL_RESOLUTION/74801.DOC.

  • Kerman Telephone Company Rate Case Resolution Adopted, T-17081 (Item 35, adopted on consent agenda) – This resolution resolves the informal rate case filed by Kerman Telephone Company. The resolution establishes Kerman’s rate base for test year 2008, and adopts an overall rate of return of 10%. Kerman will receive $3,657,147 in support from the CHCF-A. The resolution is available at the following link: http://162.15.7.24/WORD_PDF/FINAL_RESOLUTION/74861.DOC .

  • Additional Funding Authorized Under Rural Telecommunications Grant Program for Iowa Hill Project, Res. T-17114 (Item 14, adopted on consent agenda) – This resolution approves a further disbursement of $420,100 in CHCF-A monies to fund the Iowa Hill project in Placer County. In 2004, the Commission approved an initial grant of $1,834,900 to fund the creation of a wireless transport link connecting the town of Iowa Hill to the Public Switched Telephone Network in Foresthill, and wireline distribution facilities to all known potential subscribers in the Iowa Hill area. In 2006, the Commission granted additional funding in the amount of $245,000. This resolution brings the total funding for the project to the statutory maximum of $2,500,000.

    The Iowa Hill project is being funded pursuant to the Rural Telecommunications Infrastructure Grant Program, which was created by AB 140 (Ch. 903, Stats. 2001), and implemented during 2003 through 2005. The program is designed to provide funding for the construction of telecommunications facilities in low-income areas that are without telephone service. Iowa Hill is a community in rural Placer County, east of Colfax and North of Foresthill. The town has no telephone service, and no commercial power. There are fifty residences in the area, and many of the residents are low-income.

    The Iowa Hill project was among the first financed pursuant to the grant program. A recent version of this resolution is available at the following link: http://162.15.7.24/WORD_PDF/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/74527.DOC.

  • CPCN Granted to Devine Communications (Item 9, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision grants Devine Communications’ request for a CPCN to provide InterLATA and IntraLATA telecommunications services as a switchless reseller. The Commission’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division had protested Devine’s application for a CPCN based on concerns that Devine had been offering prepaid phone card services without the required registration with the Commission. The CPSD and the California Attorney General were jointly investigating Devine, and that investigation raised concerns that Devine had been selling prepaid phone cards without fully disclosing all rates, terms, and conditions associated with the service. The decision approves a settlement between CPSD and Devine, under which CPSD agreed to withdraw its protest in exchange for Devine’s agreement to the entry of a Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction in Superior Court. Under the judgment, Devine must pay $118,000 in civil penalties divided evenly between the Attorney General and the CPUC, and Devine “must not advertise, issue, distribute, market, sell, or otherwise offer Prepaid Calling Cards in California until these penalties are paid in full.” The final decision on this matter is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/74653.doc.

  • Qwest CPCN Expanded to Include SureWest and Frontier Territory (Item 15, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision expands Qwest’s CLEC authority to include the service territories of SureWest and Frontier. Qwest previously obtained authority to operate as a CLEC in AT&T and Verizon territory. This modification to Qwest’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity is effective on November 1, 2007. The final decision on this matter is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/74738.doc. .

  • Various AT&T Interconnection Agreements Approved, Resolutions T-17113, T-17110, T-17111 (Items 26, 27, 28, adopted on consent agenda) – These items approve three separate requests for interconnection by AT&T. Specifically, these resolutions approve interconnection agreements between AT&T California and New Cingular Wireless, AT&T Communications, and Cal-Ore Communications, Inc.

  • Statutory Deadline Extended for Completion of AT&T Warmline Complaint Case (Item 32, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision extends the statutory deadline for completion of the complaint proceeding brought by UCAN against AT&T with regard to AT&T’s compliance with the 911 “warmline” requirements of Public Utilities Code Section 2883. A Presiding Officer’s Decision (“POD”) was recently released in this proceeding, and the Commission is expecting an appeal. The POD would penalize AT&T nearly $1.7 million based on findings that AT&T’s practice of routinely removing 911 “warmline” service after a residential unit has been out of service for more than 180 days is a violation of Public Utilities Code Section 2883. The statutory deadline for completion of this proceeding is extended for an additional 120 days. A recent version of the decision is available via the following link: http://162.15.7.24/WORD_PDF/AGENDA_DECISION/73977.DOC.


SIGNIFICANT HELD ITEMS

  • Resolution Establishing “In Language” Outreach Program, Res. CSID-002 (Item 36, held by staff until 11/16) – This draft resolution would initiate a program for coordinating “in language” outreach by community-based organizations to consumers of telecommunications services. Under the proposed program, the Commission would contract with a single CBO, who would have the responsibility for bringing carriers, other CBOs, and the Commission staff together to reach out to LEP consumers in non-English languages. A copy of the draft resolution is available at the following link: http://162.15.7.24/WORD_PDF/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/74405.DOC.


NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS

  • Report on Recovery Efforts from Southern California Fires – Director Clanon reported briefly on efforts of telecommunications and energy utilities to restore their networks and assist customers affected by the devastating Southern California fires that occurred a couple of weeks ago.

    Several carriers suffered significant damage, including AT&T, who lost 2,000 telephone poles, 1.5 million feet of copper, and 500,000 feet of fiber. Five AT&T cellular sites were also out of service. Verizon experienced outages affecting 200 customers in the Lake Arrowhead area in connection with fire-related damage. 1200 Cox customers were also affected in San Diego and Orange counties.

    To mitigate the effects of the outages for consumers, the carriers took several steps. Carriers worked swiftly to restore service to customers. They waived termination and installation fees for affected customers, and waived charges for call forwarding and voicemail for those customers. AT&T also installed 6 emergency payphones with free domestic long distance in the border town of Dulzura. The carriers will continue evaluating the impact of the fires on network operations.

    These fires provided a test of the emergency notification systems that are in place to warn customers of disasters. Clanon reported that more than 350,000 people in San Diego got the emergency notification systems, and that, based on feedback that he has received, many people heeded the notifications. Commissioner Chong suggested that the Commission should look into the extent to which the emergency notifications would provide notice to deaf and disabled communities. Commissioner Simon is also planning to derive whatever lessons can be drawn from these fires and the emergency response to them, and incorporate those lessons into the ongoing “emergency notification” proceeding.

    In conclusion, the Commissioners praised the efforts of emergency crews and carriers to maintain and restore service to customers, event when many of the workers themselves were displaced. Director Clanon’s presentation is summarized in the following power point presentation: ftp://ftp.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/aboutcpuc/SoCal%20Fire%20Response%20110107.ppt.

  • Commissioner Simon Reports on Telecommunications Technology Panel at NAACP Annual Meeting – Commissioner Simon noted he attended a panel at the most recent annual meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the “NAACP”). The panel included carrier representatives from Comcast and AT&T, as well as representatives from the California Emerging Technologies Fund. Simon described the discussion as “lively” and remarked that it went far longer than scheduled due to the level of interest in the issues being discussed. He stated that the carriers fielded questions about how they would bridge the digital divide, and about how they would rectify their “reputation for having a cavalier attitude toward consumers.” Simon emphasized that consumers must be made to feel that they have a “voice” with regard to their communications services. Simon pledged to work with the Consumer Affairs Branch to continue to improve telecommunications customer service.

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