Earlier this month, the Alabama Public Service Commission proposed to exert much more extensive regulatory control over carrier operations than either it or any other state has to date. The Order starts out with a broad and informative discussion of prominent issues facing the industry and regulators in Alabama, including new technologies, video visitation, types of services offered, rate caps, surcharges and fees, etc. It effectively “tees up” the topics to be addressed in more detail later on. As one reads along, however, the tone of the order changes more into that of a staff recommendation, and less of an invitation to participate and provide input. Ultimately, the text appears to transform into language consistent with a final order. The “proposed” rules and requirements appear to be a foregone conclusion, even to the extent of including a January 2014 start date for the “proposed” reporting requirements.
It is clear that staff has invested considerable time and effort into the issue of ICS regulation. It is reasonable to conclude that staff intends to seek adoption of all the recommendations and conclusions articulated in the order. To the extent that ICS providers in Alabama have concerns or endorsements of any of the issues contained in the order, the window of opportunity to provide input is extremely short: carriers only have until November 8 to offer comments and articulate concerns with the proposed rules.
This multi-part series will address some of the extensive issues raised in this latest rulemaking, and will include both comments and questions. The major issues include: regulation of Video Visitation Service, rate caps, site commissions, monthly statements, separate web page, and reporting requirements.
Watch for Part 2 on Wednesday, Oct. 23rd.