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 PSC issued a RFP to provide a telecommunications relay service system in Florida. RFP bidders are invited to submit proposals to the PSC by August 8, 2014. AT&T – the current FRS provider – notified the PSC in January that it would not exercise its options to extend the existing contract, which expires on May 31, 2015. To ensure a seamless transition, the PSC is expected to select a provider in October, with new service beginning on June 1, 2015. Florida’s Relay Service provides access to basic telecommunications services for more than 3 million Floridians who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf/blind, or speech-impaired.
Inmate Calling Services Issues
The FCC released an updated Agenda and the list of panelists for its July 9, 2014, Workshop on Inmate Calling Services Reform. See the Regulatory Mix dated 6/30/14.
Several more parties have requested additional time to respond to the FCC’s one-time mandatory data collection requirement adopted as part of its Inmate Calling Service Rates Order. See the Regulatory Mix dated 7/3/14. CenturyLink, Network Communications International Corp., and Inmate Calling Solutions, LLC all requested a 60-day extension or until September 15, 2014, to respond to the data collection.
The National Association of Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) asked the FCC to: (1) stay action on network change notifications retire switches and/or copper facilities in entire wire center; and (2) suspend its network change notification rules to the extent necessary. NASUCA asks that this action apply to Verizon’s pending change notifications for Belle Harbor, N.Y.; Ocean View, Va.; Lynnfield, Mass.; Farmingdale, N.J.; and Hummelstown, Pa. NASUCA notes that proceedings that apply to an entire wire center, whether initiated by Verizon or any other LEC, “risk application of an automatic mechanism that will preempt the Commission’s present judgment on the Internet transition. Unlike AT&T, which is proceeding on the invitation of the Commission to do trials for the transition, Verizon (along with other LECs [local exchange carriers]) is simply implementing a transition in its territory, picking off wire center by wire center, using this mechanical process, according to its business plan. The process may have been appropriate in the past, but now in the midst of the transition the FCC’s steps must be measured, and cannot, as NASUCA has warned, allow any company’s business plan to dictate the public interest, or to define the enduring values of the Communications Act. Thus the Commission must put such applications on hold, pending determination of the basic principles for the transition.” NASUCA also names unbundling as one of the issues the FCC should examine.
Separately, COMPTEL filed a letter with the FCC in response to the FCC’s blog request for comment on the impact of copper retirement from all consumers, including wholesale customers. See FCC blog, Protecting Consumers in the Transition from Copper Networks, posted by Julie Veach, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau on May 7, 2014. COMPTEL also focuses on Verizon’s public notice of its intent to retire its copper facilities in wire centers in Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. COMPTEL urges the FCC to revisit its rules and “ensure appropriate balance in its copper retirement policies” as discussed in the National Broadband Plan. The letter addresses two issues: (1) The FCC Should Remind ILECs of Their Continued Duty to Provide Access to DS1 and DS3 UNE Loops, Irrespective of Copper Retirement and/or an IP Conversion and (2) The FCC Should Include Revisiting of the Copper Retirement Processes as Part of the IP Transition Proceeding.
Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter and AT&T-DirecTV Transactions
The FCC announced the members of an inter-bureau steering committee and the working team leaders established to coordinate the agency’s review of merger applications from Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter and AT&T-DirecTV. Jonathan Sallet, General Counsel, will chair the steering committee that will oversee both sets of transactions. Bureau chiefs on the steering committee include Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake, International Bureau Chief Mindel de la Torre, Wireline Competition Bureau Chief Julie Veach, and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Roger Sherman.