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.
Rural Call Completion
The FCC announced it has entered into a settlement agreement with Verizon to resolve an inquiry into Verizon’s failure to investigate evidence that reflected problems with its delivery of calls to wireline customers in 26 rural areas. Under the terms of the Consent Decree, Verizon will pay a fine of $2 million and will implement a compliance plan by which it will spend an additional $3 million over the next three years to improve call completion to rural areas. The compliance plan includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Appointment of a Rural Call Completion Ombudsperson responsible for the development, implementation, and administration of Verizon’s compliance plan;
- Monthly investigations of potential rural call completion problems;
- The filing of quarterly summaries of its investigations with the FCC and meeting periodically with FCC staff to identify lessons learned;
- Development of a system to automatically flag customer complaints related to rural call completion;
- Limiting its use of intermediate providers;
- Organizing, funding, and hosting two workshops in the Washington DC metro area. The first workshop, to be held within six months, will discuss methods to further identify and isolate causes of, and to develop strategies to avoid, detect, and resolve rural call completion problems. Workshop 2, to be held approximately two years after the first workshop, will address the current state of rural call completion, notable successes, and continued challenges since the first workshop;
- Commissioning a grant in the amount of $30,000-$50,000 for an academic study on methods to detect and resolve rural call completion problems in real time;
- Preparing a report to be publicly filed at the FCC at the end of the three-year compliance period.
911 Fee Report
The FCC is seeking comment on its Sixth Annual Report to Congress on State Collection and Distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 Fees and Charges (Report). The annual Report is required by the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act). The Report finds that six states and Puerto Rico reported diverting or transferring a portion of collected 911 fees and charges for non-911 related purposes in 2013. As in past years, New York and Rhode Island reported that they assigned collected 911 fees and charges to their state’s General Fund. Illinois reported that funds were diverted to its state public utility fund. Puerto Rico diverted funds to retire government debt. California and Washington reported transferring money to non-911-related public safety or emergency response-related programs. The FCC seeks comment specifically in this diversion of fees, including additional information concerning the specific impact, if any, that such diversion has had on the provision of 911 service. With respect to the use of 911 fees to support the development and deployment of NG911services, the FCC asks if the fees devoted to NG911 are effectively contributing to implementation of NG911 services and infrastructure. In states or counties that have deployed text-to-911 service, the FCC seeks comment on the extent to which collected 911 fees have been used to support the deployment of that service. Comments are due February 23, 2015; reply comments are due March 24, 2015. The full Report is available here. Information submitted by the states and other reporting entities is included in Appendix D attached to the Report.
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