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 and the National Institute on Aging will host a workshop on February 18, 2014, to gather and incorporate stakeholder input on the types of research that are needed to improve the functional equivalency and efficiency of telecommunications relay service (TRS). This first workshop will focus on developing a platform for the delivery of IP-based relay services and the development of new and improved relay services during and after the IP transition. An audience question and answer session will follow panel discussions. The event will be shown live at www.fcc.gov/live. Additional details will be released closer to the event date.
Modification of NECA Average Schedule Formula
The FCC is seeking comment on the National Exchange Carrier Association, Inc. (NECA)’s proposed modification of average schedule formulas for interstate settlement disbursements in connection with the provision of interstate access services for the period beginning July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015. Comments are due February 21, 2014; reply comments are due March 7, 2014.
Overall, NECA proposes formula changes that would decrease settlement rates by about one percent, at constant demand. The effects of these formula changes on individual average schedule companies will vary depending on each company’s size and demand characteristics. NECA calculates that 154 study areas are expected to experience increases and 181 study areas are expected to experience decreases in settlement rates at constant demand.
According to NECA, most of the settlement decreases are attributed to large Non-DSL settlement reductions experienced by all study areas. The decrease in this formula is mainly driven by the change in cost allocation between DSL and Non-DSL special access categories. For study areas offering DSL in the NECA pool, the decrease in Non-DSL settlements due to cost shifts between the two categories is mostly offset by an increase in DSL settlements. This is not the case for study areas offering DSL outside the NECA pool.
The FCC also announced the tentative agenda for its next open meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 20, 2014. It includes the following items:
1. Promoting Quality Closed Captioning to Make Television Programming Accessible to All: The FCC will consider a Report and Order, Declaratory Ruling, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that addresses the quality and technical compliance of closed captioning on television programming to ensure that video programming is fully accessible to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.
2. Improving Wireless E911 Location Accuracy: The FCC will consider a Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to ensure that accurate caller location information is automatically provided to public safety officials for all wireless calls to 911, including indoor calls, to meet consumer and public safety needs and expectations, and to take advantage of new technological developments.
The PUC will hold a prehearing conference on February 14, 2014, to identify parties and establish a procedural schedule in connection with its investigation into the Oregon Telephone Assistance Program (OTAP) and Lifeline Marketing Practices. Persons wishing to participate as parties are encouraged to intervene before the prehearing conference. A dial-in number will be available.
In December 2013, the PUC revised its OTAP rules, including the rule addressing advertising, marketing, and outreach. At that time, it declined to adopt the proposed prohibition on the use of agents to solicit potential customers for OTAP and Lifeline. Instead, the PUC directed Staff to open the above investigation and develop a record from which it can discern the nature of any abusive practices that need to be addressed in proposed new rules.