On October 28, 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The telecommunications agenda was relatively light, with orders addressing the California LifeLine Program and outstanding 2010 California High Cost Fund-A issues held until future meetings. The Commission did adopt a decision concerning consumer protection rules for cramming complaints. These and other items of interest on the Commission’s public agenda are discussed in further detail below.
REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS
- Commission Affirms Final Arbitrator’s Report Regarding an Interconnection Agreement between SureWest and AT&T (Item 21, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision affirms a Final Arbitrator’s Report determining that a disputed interconnection agreement between SureWest Telephone and SureWest TeleVideo dba SureWest Broadband (SureWest) and Pacific Bell Telephone Company dba AT&T California (AT&T California) should be amended to delete a prohibition against assigning telephone numbers to end users with service addresses outside the rate center to which the NXX is assigned and closes the proceeding. The Proposed Decision adopting the Final Arbitrator’s Report associated with this item is available here.
- Decision Adopting Consumer Protection Rules Governing Cramming Complaints (Item 35, adopted on regular agenda) – This decision adopts California telephone corporation billing rules applicable to all billing telephone corporations (BTCs), including resellers and wireless service providers, and establishes cramming reporting requirements applicable to all BTCs and billing agents. Under the presumption that “the record shows that unauthorized charges continue to vex California telecommunications carriers,” and despite the limited scope of this Phase of the proceeding (which was to adopt cramming-related reporting requirements), the Commission’s decision enacts sweeping rules related to billing generally. The Proposed Decision engendered a large number of comments by carriers, who almost uniformly objected to the Commission’s adoption of these rules. Despite these objections, Commissioner Bohn touted the decision adopted by the Commission as an “effective balance of interests” between consumers and the real need of businesses to provide innovative consumer products and noted that it is part of an ongoing process to develop best practices with respect to consumer education. Commissioner Bohn briefly addressed the concerns of wireless carriers, noting that their double opt-in procedure is not the same as the “subscriber authorization” required pursuant to the Public Utilities Code. Commissioners Simon and Ryan commended Commissioner Bohn’s addition of a consumer education component to the Proposed Decision. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
SIGNIFICANT ENERGY ITEMS
- CPUC Grants Emergency Authorization to Ensure Adequate Gas Supplies to San Francisco and the Peninsula (Item 27, adopted on regular agenda) – This Resolution grants authority power to the Commission’s Executive Director to take actions necessary to ensure that Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) provides safe and reliable natural gas service to San Francisco and the Peninsula in the upcoming months, given the Commission’s previous order to PG&E to reduce pressure in the pipeline involved in the San Bruno explosion by 20%. The purpose, according to President Peevey, is to provide a means to allow increased pressure in the system if necessary to meet demand as long as this can be accomplished without compromising public safety. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
SIGNIFICANT HELD OR WITHDRAWN ITEMS
- Small LECs California High Cost Fund-A Administrative Committee Fund Adjustments Authorized for Calendar Year 2010 (Item 9, held until 12/2/10 by Commissioner Bohn) – The Draft Resolution in this matter would adopt Calendar Year (CY) 2010 California High Cost Fund-A (CHCF-A) adjustment requests plus interest in the amount of $78,163.66 for Calaveras Telephone Company (Calaveras), Foresthill Telephone Company (Foresthill), Kerman Telephone Company (Kerman), Pinnacles Telephone Company (Pinnacles), Ponderosa Telephone Company (Ponderosa), Sierra Telephone Company (Sierra), Siskiyou Telephone Company (Siskiyou), and Volcano Telephone Company (Volcano). In October 2009, the 14 small Local Exchange Carriers (Small LECs) made their annual CHCF-A advice letter filings, requesting total CY 2010 CHCF-A support of $38.886 million. On January 21, the Commission authorized $35.535 million in funding, and deferred a decision on requested carrier adjustments related to (1) revenue effects associated with National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA) separations methodology changes; (2) revenue effects associated with virtual NXX calls; and (3) revenue effect associated with wireless intercarrier compensation. This Draft Resolution addresses those deferred items.
In its current form, the Draft Resolution (1) would not approve the proposed NECA separations methodology revenue adjustments; (2) would approve Foresthill and Kerman’s request for a CHCF-A adjustment related to the implementation of intercarrier compensation agreements with 01 Communications; and (3) would disallow claims for the revenue effect of wireless intercarrier compensation changes. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
- Decision Addressing Reforms of the LifeLine Program (Item 36, held until 11/19/10 by President Peevey) – This Proposed Decision would adopt fundamental changes to the LifeLine program in light of significant technological and regulatory changes in the telecommunications industry. As a result, the Proposed Decision would (1) de-link 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, with a support amount initially being set at $11.00 effective July 1, 2011; (2) cap the LifeLine rate at no more than 50% of a carrier’s basic service rate, with a two-year transition from the current California LifeLine rate of $6.84; (3) authorize carriers to adjust their LifeLine rate annually; (4) expand the LifeLine program to cover services for consumers who receive wireless equipment through the Commission’s Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program; (5) extend the LifeLine program to wireless services; (6) decline to modify the income-based criteria to match the low-income energy program (CARE) income-based criteria on an interim basis; and (7) eliminate payments to carriers for administration and bad debt costs under the LifeLine program and to make-up for forgone federal support. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Chief Administrative Law Judge Clopton announced the employment of a new ALJ, W. Anthony Colbert, who previously handled franchise and security matters at the state Department of Corporations.