On Thursday, September 20, 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. In the wake of a robust telecommunications agenda at the last meeting, the meeting addressed only a few telecommunications-related items. The agenda was dominated by high-profile energy items, including a groundbreaking rulemaking to address climate change issues, a significant procurement decision, and a decision announcing a $50 million award under the Solar Initiative Program. Nevertheless, there were some noteworthy telecommunications matters on the agenda, as described below.
REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS
714 Area Code Overlay Approved (Item 7, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision authorizes an “all services” area code overlay on the current 714 area code, the area code that serves north Orange County in Southern California. The new area code will be numbered 657. The overlay will be phased in over a 12-month implementation schedule, starting as of the effective date of this decision. 10-digit dialing will be required once the overlay is in effect, but no customers will be required to change their phone numbers.
The North American Numbering Plan Administrator (“NANPA”) had requested an overlay of the 714 area code in 1998. In 1999, the Commission issued an order approving an overlay plan for this area code. However, due to public outcry regarding this overlay, and regarding other proposed overlays, the 714 overlay plan was not implemented. Instead, carriers and the NANPA were instructed to utilize numbering resources to extend the lives of these area codes. In March 2007, the NANPA filed a further application for area code relief with respect to the 714 area code. The application relied on data from the October 2006 Number Resource and Utilization Forecast report. According to the report, the 714 area code will exhaust in the fourth quarter of 2008 if relief is not granted. No parties protested the application.
This decision outlines a customer education program, and establishes permissive dialing and mandatory dialing periods to phase in the overlay. A recent draft of the decision is available at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/72931.doc.
GVNI Receives Authority to Grandfather Foreign Exchange Service, Res. T-17106 (Item 10, adopted on consent agenda) – This resolution grants the request of Global Valley Networks, Inc. for authority to grandfather its “Foreign Exchange” service. Foreign Exchange (or “FX”) service allows a customer to select a distant local exchange as the rate center for local calls, thereby avoiding toll rates in calling customers in that distant exchange. The advice letter presenting GVNI’s request demonstrates that demand for FX service does not justify its continued provision. GVNI has 40 current customers purchasing this service, and the last time a new order for the service was processed was 2000. GVNI also noted that this is a relatively expensive service to provide because the company must convert AT&T’s charges for this service to its own charges in order to bill GVNI customers. Further, the availability of wireless and other non-traditional wireline alternatives has made FX service far less viable economically. Based on this resolution, no new orders for FX service will be processed. A recent draft of the resolution approving the proposed grandfathering is available at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/72069.doc.
CPCNs Granted to Bandwidth.com and TalkFreeToo, Inc. (Items 20, 21, adopted on consent agenda) – Bandwidth.com CLEC, LLC and TalkFreeToo, Inc. were both granted CPCNs entitling them to offer limited facilities-based and resold competitive local exchange and interexchange services in the large and mid-sized ILEC service territories. Drafts of the decisions approving these CPCNs are provided below:
TalkFreeToo, Inc: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/72271.doc
Statutory Deadline Extended for Resolution of AT&T Complaint Case Regarding Open Access Requirements (Item 27, adopted on consent agenda) – This decision extends the statutory deadline for completion of the complaint case between AT&T and a group of CLECs regarding AT&T’s open access obligations under Section 251 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The complaint case has been designated as C.06-03-023. The case was scheduled to be resolved in September 2007. The new deadline for completion of the case is November 26, 2007. A recent draft of the decision approving this deadline extension is available at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/72887.doc.
SIGNIFICANT HELD ITEMS
Kerman Rate Case Resolution, Res. T-17081 (Item 1, held by staff until 10/4) – 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 attached at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_RESOLUTION/71487.doc.
Directive Authorizing CPUC Comments in FCC Emergency Alert System Proceeding (Item 38, held by staff until 10/4/07) – The Commission is considering whether to offer comments on the FCC’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing whether Emergency Alert System participants should be required to deliver alerts originated by local, county, tribal, and state governments. This FCC inquiry is being conducted in EB Docket No. 04-296.
NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS
Legislative Wrap-up – Governmental Affairs Director Delaney Hunter provided a report to the Commission regarding the outcome of legislative items on which the Commission had taken a position during the most recent session. This “legislative wrap-up” is summarized in the following presentation prepared by Ms. Hunter: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/static/aboutcpuc/07+legislative+wrap+up.pps.
The two bills of particular significance in the telecommunications arena were AB 1716 (Asm. U&C Committee) and AB 891 (De la Torre). AB 1716 implemented a statutory change to accommodate the Commission’s imputation of federal E-rate discounts to participants in the California Teleconnect Fund (“CTF”) program. The Commission supported this bill, and it has now been signed by the Governor. Ms. Hunter expressed hope that this bill would put the CTF fund on a “smooth sailing path other than the bumpy one that we have encouraged” previously.
AB 891 would have adopted more prescriptive “in language” rules than the Commission’s recent “in language” decision issued in R.07-01-021. In light of the conflicts with the Commission’s approach to “in language” regulation, the Commission has been skeptical of the bill, but it has not taken an “oppose” position. AB 891 is currently inactive, but Ms. Hunter warned the Commissioners that the bill would likely “come back in January.”
Clanon Report on Budget – Executive Director Clanon provided a brief report on the status of the Commission’s budget process for Fiscal Year 2008-2009. Clanon stated that the budget process is currently in the stage where the Commission is coordinating with the Department of Finance in developing the Governor’s budget. These “internal to the administration” discussions are taking place between the Department of Finance and each of the state administrative agencies. Clanon also introduced a useful document entitled “Simplified General Budget Timetable.” It is available at the following link: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/static/aboutcpuc/budgetprocessestimeline.pdf.