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 Governor of California has vetoed two bills that would have affected the telecom industry.
The first bill, AB1409, would have required the PSC to adopt rules by June 1, 2014, authorizing an alternative provider of voice communications service to voluntarily participate in the state Lifeline program. It would also have increased the maximum fee the PSC could assess for applications for certificates of public convenience and necessity and the transfer of a certificate. In his veto message, the Governor noted that the PUC has an open proceeding to revise the Lifeline program to authorize non-traditional carriers to participate in the program and receive reimbursement. The Governor said that the bill would “legislatively preempt” the outcome of the PUC’s proceeding and that he prefers that the public process be given a chance to be completed “before I decide whether legislation of this type is needed.” He also urged the PUC to meet with the cable industry to explore ways it can participate in the Lifeline Program with some reasonable level of oversight.
The second bill vetoed was AB 300, which would have established a separate Prepaid Wireless (PPW) fee to be collected by the seller on each retail transaction. It would have replaced the 911 and PUC public policy program surcharges currently collected by PPW providers, as well as the PUC user fee. In his veto statement, the Governor said that while the state did need an effective system for capturing local taxes related to the sale of prepaid phones, the solution proposed by the bill was “duplicative, complex and will result in significant and unnecessary costs to the state.” He encouraged the bill’s author to partner with the local governments and affected state agencies to “craft a bill with a more cost effective solution.”
North American Numbering Plan
The North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA) announced that the 5XX-NXX resource is projected to exhaust in the first half of 2014 and that the 577 NPA will be used as the next 5XX NPA. NANPA said it would continue to keep the industry posted on the current supply of 500, 533, 544 and 566 NXXs and when assignments from the new 577 NPA will commence.
NOTE: 5XX-NXX codes are used for applications which are non-geographic in nature, are not assigned to rate centers and may or may not traverse the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), but do require an E.164 addressing scheme. The numbers are used to communicate with both fixed and mobile devices, some of which may be unattended. The numbers may also be used for applications enabling machines, including wireless devices and appliances, to share information with back-office control and data base systems and the people that use them. Service is limited only by terminal and network capabilities and restrictions imposed by the service provider.
US House of Representatives
A group of 44 lawmakers sent a letter to FCC Acting Chairwoman Clyburn expressing concern over the growth in the federal Lifeline fund, calling it a “failed program” that symbolizes “everything that is wrong with Washington” and “one of the worst examples of corporate welfare in the federal government.” The letter also notes claims of fraud and abuse in the program and concludes that, even with the FCC’s recently announced fines and its efforts to reform the program, “it’s too late for the public’s trust to be restored in any capacity for the Lifeline program.” The letter asks the Acting Chairwoman to respond to the following questions:
1. What makes the failed Lifeline program more important than other Universal Service Fund priorities?
2. Would you support a $2 dollar co-pay as a condition to participate in the Lifeline program? Why or why not?
3. Can you offer any new suggestions for how to cut the spending in this program in half by the end of 2014?
4. How is the FCC verifying Lifeline eligibility and duplication? How many non-eligible and duplicate names have you found were enrolled in the Lifeline program over the past year?
5. How much time and how many resources has the FCC wasted trying to save this failed welfare program?
Read the letter here.
Review the sample of our Lifeline Requirements
See a TMI Reguatory Bulletin via the text below.
Easily locate USF and related telecom funds and fees in our Telecommunications Funds Matrix.