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 announced its tentative agenda for its next meeting scheduled for Friday, November 21, 2014. Included on the agenda are two items relating to technology transitions: a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Declaratory Ruling, and Order to facilitate the transition to next generation networks by promoting and preserving the FCC’s public safety, consumer protection, and competition goals; and a Policy Statement and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding its approach to 911 governance and proposing mechanisms to ensure continued accountability for reliable 911 services as technologies evolve. The third item is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to provide broadcasters greater flexibility in their disclosure of contest terms.
In a blog posting discussing the technology transition items, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler provided additional insight into his proposals. He recognizes that many Americans will continue to choose traditional, reliable, copper networks for voice communication. Accordingly, he is proposing to update the FCC’s rules that govern the retirement of legacy networks and the discontinuance of traditional services. To ensure that consumers using these next generation networks and services (whether cable coax or telecommunications fiber) can reach 911 and other emergency services even when the power goes out, he proposes “new transparency measures to ensure that they know what is happening to their voice service when carriers propose to take it away – and what they can do about it.” To protect competition, the item includes proposals to ensure that the “mere change of a network facility or discontinuance of a legacy service should not deprive consumers or businesses of competitive choices.” In addition, he noted that an order on the VoIP symmetry rule was also on circulation. In regard to this item he said that: “[t]he notion is simple –interconnected VOIP is functionally equivalent to traditional voice service, and the Commission’s rules that govern the way communications companies pay each other to complete voice calls must reflect that. Technology-neutral rules are best.“
The PSC has approved a Stipulation and Settlement Agreement (Stipulation) that allows CenturyLink to cease filing initial retail tariffs or price lists and to withdraw all retail service tariffs or price lists previously filed. Only a small number of services will remain tariffed. CenturyLink agreed not to geographically deaverage its retail residential and business services and to continue to be subject to the PSC’s quality of service rules. CenturyLink will be allowed to enter into individual customer based contracts without notice to the PSC but must make such contracts available on request. CenturyLink’s obligations and agreements relating to wholesale services are unaffected by the Stipulation. TMI Regulatory Bulletin Service subscribers see Bulletin dated 10/31/14.