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On Friday, November 16, 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The meeting was relatively brief, but the Commission did adopt several telecommunications-related items of interest on the consent agenda. Those items included a decision granting a partial exemption from Section 851 to URF ILECs, a decision correcting certain errors in the CHCF-B Phase I Decision, and a resolution adopting a budget for the California High Cost Fund A for Fiscal Year 2008-2009. These and other items on the November 16th agenda are described in detail below.


REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS

  • Partial 851 Exemption Granted for URF Carriers (Item 39, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision grants a partial exemption to URF ILECs from the full requirements of Public Utilities Code Section 851. The URF ILECs may now use advice letters to comply with Section 851 rather than filing full Commission applications, similar to the procedure that has previously been available to CLECs and NDIECs. However, the URF ILECs may not use advice letters to withdraw basic service. The decision also provides that the retirement of copper loops and sub-loops will governed by the outcome of the Petition proceeding to consider how to address that issue (P.07-09-009).

    In granting this partial exemption, the Commission rejected AT&T’s original request in this proceeding for a full exemption from Section 851. AT&T had urged the Commission to rely on its authority under Section 853(b) to exempt AT&T from Section 851’s requirement that an application be filed whenever the carrier disposes of utility property that is “necessary or useful” to utility operations. SureWest, Frontier, and Verizon filed comments in the application proceeding seeking similar treatment. All of these carriers cited the competitive findings and deregulatory policies that have come out of the URF proceeding as support for a full exemption. This decision rejects the carriers’ requests, but indicates that the issue of a full exemption will be considered in a rulemaking that will be issued “in the near future.”

    This decision is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/75383.doc.

  • CHCF-A Budget Resolution Adopted, Resolution T-17121 (Item 8, adopted on consent agenda) – This resolution adopts a 2008-09 Fiscal Year budget of $64.866 million for the California High Cost Fund A (CHCF-A). This represents a decrease of $1.796 million over the budget for the previous fiscal year. Carrier payments make up $54,024,311 of the budget. Commission staff costs and audit costs are $475,000 and $150,000, respectively. A copy of the draft resolution is attached at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/75115.doc.

  • Errors in CHCF-B Phase I Decision Corrected (Item 25, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision corrects a series of non-substantive errors in D.07-09-020, the Phase I Decision in the CHCF-B reexamination proceeding. The corrections include refinements to the procedure implemented to adopt the CHCF-B surcharge reductions, and a clarification that Verizon and AT&T have explicit authority to increase their basic residential rates by up to 2.36% as of January 1, 2008. The Commission also clarified some of the ordering paragraphs in the decision in order to match the discussion in the body of the decision. The decision is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/WORD_PDF/FINAL_DECISION/75379.DOC.

  • Trillion Partners Granted CPCN, Specialized CEQA Compliance Procedures Established For Future Construction (Item 11, adopted on consent agenda) –This decision grants authority to Trillion Partners to operate as a facilities-based CLEC in AT&T, Verizon, SureWest, and Frontier service territories. Trillion will provide wireless broadband network services for K-12 educational institutions and libraries throughout the state. According to Trillion, it is the largest national competitive service provider of fixed licensed wireless wide area network in the United States, serving over 1,500 schools.

    Although the Commission grants Trillion’s CPCN application, it imposes specific follow-up procedures for garnering CEQA approval. The decision finds that if construction is “in or on existing structures,” it does not constitute a project under CEQA, and therefore does not require further authorization from the Commission. However, to the extent that Trillion proposes to install facilities in or on anything other than an existing structure, such as a freestanding “monopole,” it must describe the project and the implications of the project to the Energy Division through a formal filing, and await the issuance of a “Notice to Proceed” (NTP) or a “Notice of Exemption” (NOE). Trillion cannot perform any full facilities-based construction activities other than in or on existing structures, or pursuant to an NTP or NOE from the Energy Division. A copy of the proposed decision is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/75198.doc.

  • Sprint Motion for Confidentiality With Regard to Materials in Previously-Filed 851 Application, Res. ALJ-210 (Item 13, adopted on consent agenda) – This resolution grants Sprint’s request to preserve the confidentiality of certain information in an application and documents related to a previously-approved lease of fiber facilities from Southern California Edison to Sprint. The information for which confidentiality was granted includes: (a) the specific number of optical fibers leased from SCE, (b) specific route information for each product order; (c) the amounts that Sprint pays for each product order; (d) the lease agreement term; (e) the economic terms and methods of repair for failure of the leased fiber; (f) technical and operational specifications; and (g) the names and phone number of the individuals on the Sprint and SCE contact/escalation lists. A copy of the draft resolution is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/74219.doc.

  • Telanetix Authorized to Assume Ownership of AccessLine Communications Corporation (Item 21, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision grants the request of Access Communications Corporation and Telanetix, Inc. for a transfer of control from AccessLine’s current holding company, AccessLine Holdings, Inc., to Telanetix, Inc. AccessLine Communications is a provider of interstate and intrastate access and transport services in California as a non-dominant interexchange carrier. This decision approves the proposed transfer of control under Public Utilities Code Section 854. However, the Commission rejected the parties’ proposal to expedite approval of the transaction. The final decision is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/WORD_PDF/FINAL_DECISION/75391.DOC.

  • MCI California Relay Assets Transferred to GoAmerica (Item 24, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision approves MCI’s proposal to transfer MCI’s call center services assets for the California Relay Service segment of the CPUC’s Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program. The transferred assets include real and personal property, intellectual property, and call center contracts. GoAmerica will continue to provide relay services to MCI customers, and the transfer will cause no operational changes for MCI. A copy of the proposed decision is attached at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/75098.doc.

  • Verizon Granted Authority under Section 851 to Sell Property in Pomona, CA (Item 29, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision grants Verizon’s request to sell property in Pomona, California. The subject property includes one warehouse/office building, and 27 acres of land. The building also contains a smaller office and storage space that is used for supporting Verizon telephone and video services. Verizon will migrate some of the employees and equipment on the site to new sites, and will maintain sufficient easements on the property to avoid any disruptions in service. The decision is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/75531.doc.

  • Errors Corrected in 714 Area Code Overlay Decision (Item 15, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision corrects errors in D.07-09-025, the previous decision authorizing an area code overlay for the current 714 area code. This decision clarifies that the “permissive dialing period” for the overlay will begin five months after the start of the implementation period, and it will last for six months. “Mandatory dialing” will begin at the end of the permissive dialing period, and continue for 30 days. The new overlay area code will be the 657 area code. A copy of the proposed decision under this item is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/74319.doc.

  • FastBlue Granted CPCN to Provide Resold Local Exchange and Interexchange Service (Item 26, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision grants FastBlue Communications a CPCN to operate as a CLEC and interexchange carrier in AT&T, Verizon, SureWest, and Frontier territories. The decision is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/WORD_PDF/FINAL_DECISION/75361.DOC.


SIGNIFICANT HELD ITEMS

  • Access Charge Reform Phase III Decision (Item 38, held by Peevey for further review until 12/6) — This proposed decision would modify the access rates charge by mid-sized ILECs, small ILECs, and CLECs. As originally drafted, the proposed decision would cap the mid-sized ILECs’ rates at the higher of the Verizon or AT&T rates starting in January 2009. CLECs’ rates would be capped at 2.5 cents per minute starting in January 2008, and then lowered to the higher of the Verizon or AT&T rates starting in January 2009. Adjustments to small ILECs’ rates would be considered in their next rate case cycles. The Mid-sized ILECs have challenged the proposed decision’s treatment of their access rates, and proposed instead that their rates be reduced by the amount of the SureWest TIC. Certain smaller CLECs have also opposed the proposed decision’s proposed rate cap at the Verizon or AT&T rate. This matter has been held for the Commission to consider further the approach in the proposed decision. The original draft of the proposed decision is attached at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/efile/PD/73886.pdf.

  • Resolution Establishing “In Language” Outreach Program, Res. CSID-002 (Item 40, held by staff until 12/6) – 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://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/74871.doc .


NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS

  • Chong and Simon Report on NARUC Annual Convention – Commissioners Chong and Simon both attended the NARUC annual convention in Anaheim from November 11-14. Commissioner Chong described a resolution that she successfully sponsored regarding number porting issues. According to the resolution, the General Counsel of NARUC will work toward establishing a “one business day interval for simple ports that are requested by electronic interface, or a longer period if wireline carriers individually demonstrate that they cannot accomplish reliable ports within that limit after they have made all reasonable cost-effective efforts to upgrade electronic systems.” That resolution is available at the following link: http://www.naruc.org/Resolutions/TC1%20Resolution%20Regarding%20Revising%20Guidelines%20for%20Number%20Porting.pdf. Commissioner Chong also noted that she gave a presentation at the convention addressing the CPUC’s consumer education initiative. She stated that the presentation was warmly received, and that California is a recognized leader in the consumer protection arena. Commissioner Simon added that he attended the NARUC board of directors meeting, which he described as a “great honor.”

  • Commissioner Chong Reports on Visit to Fire-Damaged Areas of San Diego – Following the NARUC convention, Commissioner Chong spent some time in the Fallbrook and Rancho Bernardo areas of San Diego County with representatives from AT&T and SDG&E. She visited some of the areas that were ravaged by the fires from several weeks ago. She praised the utilities’ efforts to “go the extra mile” in restoring service for customers and preventing damage to key network facilities. She also noted that she was impressed with the “courage, bravery, and generosity of the utility employees.”

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