The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
The FCC said it will not automatically grant Verizon’s applications to discontinue landline service on portions of Fire Island and the New Jersey barrier islands affected by Hurricane Sandy. Instead, the FCC will continue to review the applications and is seeking additional information from Verizon. The additional information requested includes information about 911 routing and reliability, how the proposed Voice Link service compares to Verizon’s copper-based services, and what intercarrier obligations will apply to calls completed to or originated by a Voice Link customer in the affected areas. Absent the FCC’s action, the applications would have been automatically granted on August 27, 2013.
TracFone and the PUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division (CPSD) have each filed appeals of the July decision that TracFone Wireless (a prepaid wireless carrier) must pay back amounts of Public Purpose Program (PPP) user fees and surcharges, plus interest ($24,425,262). (see The Regulatory Mix posted 7/15/13)
TracFone’s primary objection is the conclusion that it should pay past due amounts for all PPP surcharges from an expanded historic period, plus interest, without consideration of the debit card services exclusion prior to D.12-02-032 and TracFone’s good faith reliance on PUC Staff advice. It argues that the PUC should (i) reduce the penalty to amounts due from May 2009 when Staff notified TracFone that there was some level of disagreement regarding applicability of PPP fees and surcharges and (ii) reduce or eliminate interest imposed on any past due.
The PUC’s CPSD has appealed the decision’s failure to assess penalties on TracFone for “its deliberate failure to remit California public purpose program surcharges at any time during its history of operations in California.” The CPSD argued that the PUC should assess a penalty for these violations in an amount sufficient (between $11.8 and $23.7 million) to deter TracFone and other carriers from unilaterally determining that surcharge and fee obligations do not apply to them.
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