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.
Department of Justice
The DOJ charged three men with allegedly defrauding the FCC’s Lifeline program of approximately $32 million. The indictment charges the men with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 15 substantive counts of wire fraud, false claims, and money laundering. The court also authorized a seizure warrant seeking the defendants’ ill-gotten gains, including the contents of multiple bank accounts, a yacht, and several luxury automobiles. The indictment alleges that the defendants owned and operated Associated Telecommunications Management Services LLC (ATMS), a holding company that owned and operated multiple subsidiary telephone companies that participated in the Lifeline Program. The defendants allegedly caused the submission of falsely inflated claims to the Lifeline Program between September 2009 and March 2011 that resulted in ATMS fraudulently receiving more than $32 million.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released a statement applauding the DOJ’s indictment and reiterating that the FCC “will not tolerate abuse of this program, and are gratified to see the results of our hard work to battle fraud.”
The FCC adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which it proposes to extend the freeze of jurisdictional separations category relationships and cost allocation factors in Part 36 of the its rules for three years, through June 30, 2017. It also proposes to direct its Wireline Competition Bureau to open a filing window for rate-of-return ILECs to file waiver requests to unfreeze their jurisdictional separations category relationships. The filing window provides an opportunity for a rate-of-return ILEC that opted to freeze its category relationships in 2001 but no longer wishes to continue the freeze to submit a waiver petition. The current freeze expires July 1, 2014. Comments are due April 16, 2014; reply comments are due April 23, 2014.
The FCC has approved 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. (See the Regulatory Mix dated February 3, 2014). Overall, NECA said its formula changes would decrease settlement rates by about one percent, at constant demand. NECA calculated that 154 study areas would experience increases and 181 study areas would 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 Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) will open an investigation into the April 10, 2014, statewide enhanced 911 (E911) service outage. Enhanced 911 services began experiencing interruptions in Washington around 1 a.m. on Thursday, April 10. CenturyLink reported that E911 service has been fully restored statewide to the company’s E911 territories. The company continues to investigate the cause of the outage. The commission plans to host a public hearing to learn more about the outage. Those who want to receive direct notice of the hearing should contact the commission at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We recognize this outage could have had serious implications for people and emergency responders across the state,” said David Danner, UTC Chairman. “Our investigation will look into the cause of the outage, the company’s emergency preparedness and response, restoration efforts, and communication with the public.”