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.
Comcast-Time Warner Merger
The House Judiciary Committee has announced the witnesses at its May 8, 2014, hearing “Competition in the Video and Broadband Markets: the Proposed Merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.” The complete list of witnesses as well as their testimony is available here.
Eighty-nine members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler urging him to adopt and implement a Connect America Fund (CAF) mechanism for areas served by rural rate-of-return-regulated carriers that is both “tailored to the unique circumstances those areas face, and will provide sufficient and predictable support for the upgrade and sustainability of broadband-capable networks in the high-cost areas of the nation.” Similar to the letter sent by many Senators (See the Regulatory Mix dated May 6, 2014), the House letter notes that because USF support is tied to voice service, high-cost areas served by rural carriers may receive reduced support if consumers do not take voice service along with broadband. “This potentially deters broadband adoption and inhibits technological evolution. This is concerning in light of the already-ongoing technology transition that the FCC is working diligently to expedite and facilitate. While rural carriers have made tremendous progress in deploying advanced networks, these outdated rules represent a real obstacle to the broadband future toward which we are all aiming.”
The FCC has asked for comment by May 13, 2014, on whether it needs to provide guidance or additional clarification of two of the call categories contained on its template for rural call completion reporting. The template is contained in Appendix C of the Order and is a spreadsheet that covered providers will use to file the required call completion data with the FCC each quarter. The FCC said that questions asked by various parties to the proceeding raised the possibility that the relevant criteria on the template were “inadvertently” drafted in a manner that failed to reflect the FCC’s intent. The categories are answered call attempts and ring no answer call attempts. TMI Bulletin Service subscribers see FCC Bulletin dated April 22, 2014.
The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) and BellSouth d/b/a AT&T have filed a petition/request that the PSC authorize ORS to immediately suspend further payments from the State USF to AT&T pending a further PSC order. The aggregate overages in support AT&T has received from the State USF for stand-alone basic residential lines since 2011 will exceed the remaining amounts of such support that has been awarded, but not yet paid, to AT&T for Fund Year 2014. The petition says that ORS and AT&T recently met and discussed AT&T’s progress in researching its records, determining the amount of overages, and developing a proposal for equitably remedying such overages.
AT&T said that it anticipates that it will conclude its review and present its data to ORS shortly. AT&T anticipates filing with the PSC a proposal for equitably remedying the overcharges within the next 30 days. ORS requests that it be allowed to withhold further payments from the Fund to AT&T until the PSC considers and rules on AT&T’s forthcoming proposal to equitably remedy these overages. AT&T does not object to this request.