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On Thursday, October 18, 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The meeting had only a few significant telecommunications items, all of which were on the consent agenda. The Commission approved Citizens’ acquisition of GVNI, clarified various aspects of Verizon’s UNE obligations, and authorized CPUC comments in the FCC’s Emergency Alert Systems docket. The Kerman and Volcano rate cases were held to accommodate further review. A more detailed summary of these items is provided below.


REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS

  • Citizens Acquisition of Global Valley Networks Approved (Item 18, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision grants the joint application of Global Valley Networks, Inc. and Citizens Communications Company for approval of an acquisition of GVNI by Citizens. Under the acquisition transaction, Citizens will pay $62 million in cash for all of the outstanding shares in GVNI. The transaction will not result in any operational changes to GVNI, nor will any material public utility assets of GVNI be sold in connection with the transaction. As noted in the decision, Citizens has stated that it “seeks to acquire GVN[I] to further its strategy of growing its business by obtaining additional assets and operations in California and continuing to improve service to its subscribers.” The decision concludes that this transaction is “in the public interest” and that it will not have any significant adverse impact on the environment. The decision is available at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/74102.doc.

  • Verizon Unbundled Network Elements Restructured and UNE Obligations Clarified (Item 24, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision resolves a series of issues regarding Verizon’s unbundled network elements. First, the decision declines to remove delisted UNEs from the UNE price list in Appendix A of D.06-03-025. However, the decision does add footnotes to the price list to indicate which UNEs are no longer available. Second, the decision grants Verizon’s request to restructure the rates for switching, multiplexing, and dark fiber to reflect how Verizon actually provisions and bills for those elements. Third, the decision clarifies that the rate adopted for Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is an addition to the deaveraged loop rate in Appendix A to D.06-03-025. Fourth, Appendix A has been modified to remove UNEs that Verizon does not provide. Fifth, the decision grants the joint petition of Covad and Verizon to price xDSL copper loops at the same rates as those adopted for two-wire and four-wire geographically deaveraged copper loops. The decision includes modified appendices that clarify each of the changes to Verizon’s procedures for pricing and provisioning UNEs. The decision is available at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/74091.doc.

  • Cordia Communications Application for CPCN Voluntarily Dismissed (Item 9, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision grants Cordia Communications Corp.’s request for voluntary dismissal of its application for registration as an interexchange carrier in California. The Commission’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division had protested Cordia’s application based on allegations that Cordia had engaged in slamming and other types of consumer fraud in other states. Following a Pre-hearing Conference, Cordia sought voluntary dismissal of the application. The Commission’s Executive Director granted the dismissal in a previous decision (D.07-08-035), but that decision was procedurally improper since CPSD did not agree to the dismissal. This decision rescinds the previous dismissal, but grants the dismissal. The decision also provides that Cordia and its affiliates must cite this decision in any future applications that may be filed seeking authority to offer telephone service in California. The decision is available at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/FINAL_DECISION/74134.doc.

  • TURN Awarded More than $26,000 in Intervenor Compensation in Connection with 1999 Section 851 Application by AT&T (Item 33, adopted on consent agenda) — During the Commission’s last meeting, the Commission approved a decision fining AT&T and Cox for improperly communicating with Commissioner advisors regarding matters in a pending complaint case. Commissioners Bohn and Chong were part of the majority that endorsed the decision, but this item clarifies that they will be filing concurrences.

  • CPUC Comments Authorized on FCC FNPRM Addressing Emergency Alert Systems ((Item 30, adopted on consent agenda) – This item authorizes the CPUC to offer comments on the FCC’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing the Emergency Alert System. The Emergency Alert System, or EAS, is a system for national, state, or local emergency warnings that provides a means of distributing emergency information quickly to the public through radio stations, television stations, and cable entities. The FCC is reviewing its EAS rules, and it is seeking comments on (1) how EAS can best serve non-English speakers and persons with disabilities, (2) whether EAS participants should be required to transmit alerts initiated by government entities other than the state governor, and (3) whether current testing, certification, and performance assessment is comprehensive and ensures that EAS operates as designed in an emergency.

    The CPUC comments will make three basic recommendations. First, the Commission will urge the FCC to take necessary measures to ensure that emergency notifications are accessible to persons with disabilities and non-English speakers. Second, the Commission concludes that EAS participants should be required to receive and transmit alerts initiated by entities other than the state governor. Third, the Commission will state that the FCC should adopt a program to audit and review all required EAS tests to ensure that the system is working properly. A summary of the Commission’s position in these areas is provided in the attached memorandum: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/REPORT/74058.doc.


SIGNIFICANT HELD AND WITHDRAWN ITEMS

  • Kerman Rate Case Resolution, T-17081 (Item 25, held by Simon until 11/1 for further review) – This draft resolution would resolve the informal rate case filed by Kerman Telephone Company. The draft resolution would establish a revenue requirement, rate base, and rate of return for test year 2008. The item would also set Kerman’s draw from the CHCF-A based on test year 2008. A recent version of the draft resolution is available at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/73554.doc.

  • Volcano Rate Case Resolution, T-17108 (Item 26, held until 11/1) – This draft resolution would resolve the informal rate case filed by Volcano Telephone Company. The draft resolution would establish a revenue requirem ent, and adjust Volcano’s rates to allow Volcano to meet its revenue requirement. The draft resolution would also authorize Volcano’s CHCF-A draw for 2008. A recent version of the draft resolution is available at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/73554.doc.

  • Decision Granting Devine Communications’ Request for CPCN (Item 16, held by Bohn until 11/1) – This draft decision would grant 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 had been 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 draft decision would approve 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. A recent version of the draft decision is available at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/73484.doc.

  • Decision Authorizing Comments in FCC Docket to Address Qwest Petition for Forbearance from ARMIS Reporting Requirements (Item 19, withdrawn) – This item would have authorized the Commission to file comments with the FCC with regard to Qwest’s petition for forbearance from the FCC rules requiring the submission of certain ARMIS reports. The original deadline for opening comments at the FCC was October 22, 2007. The FCC recently extended the deadline for submitting comments on that petition. Opening comments are now due on December 6, 2007, with replies due on December 21, 2007. This item was withdrawn, but the Commission may still authorize comments at a later date.


NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS

  • Simon Report Regarding Meeting with FCC Commissioner Martin -– Commissioner Simon mentioned that he had had a meeting with Commissioner Kevin Martin of the FCC regarding ways in which California’s emergency communications systems can be coordinated with the FCC’s systems. The CPUC is reviewing the recently-released WARN Act report, and considering how the findings of that report may impact California. During that meeting, Simon also mentioned to Commissioner Martin that California proposal to fund telemedicine projects in rural areas, in part through the California Emerging Technology Fund. Simon described the meeting as positive, and noted that he looks forward to continuing to follow through on these issues as they move forward.

  • Chong Notes Ex Parte Rules Presentation at CCPUC Event – In a brief report, Commissioner Chong thanked the California Conference of Public Utility Council for including a presentation at their annual conference addressing the Commission’s ex parte rules. The presentation was given by ALJ Hallie Yacknin in order to clarify the rules by which practitioners in front of the CPUC must abide in communicating with decision-makers in various types of proceedings. As Chong observed, the presentation “raised some difficult and complex questions” about how the rules apply. Commissioner Peevey joked that based on the some of the information provided in the presentation, “you can’t even roll the eyes anymore” without triggering ex parte issues.

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