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.
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly posted a blog describing certain principles he believes should guide any reform of the Lifeline program. The principles (which he describes in detail) are:
1. Set a budget for Lifeline by setting a ceiling on reimbursements.
2. No increase in the reimbursement rate if the program expands to include broadband.
3. Limit services eligible for support.
4. Prohibit double dipping by retaining the one per household rule as the program shifts to broadband.
5. Better target funding to those who really need it (i.e., those would not have subscribed to a phone service even without a subsidy).
6. Tighten eligibility requirements by lowering the income threshold and only using income to determine eligibility.
7. Require a minimum contribution of at least 10%.
8. Carrier participation should be voluntary so that recipients of high cost funding would be permitted, but not required, to offer Lifeline service.
9. Automatic safeguards against abuse, such as a procedure to stop new payments to carriers if certain metrics are exceeded.
10. Require retention of eligibility documentation.
Net Neutrality/Open Internet
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he will not publicly release the draft text of the FCC’s Open Internet Order. In response to a letter from House and Senate Commerce Committee leaders urging him to release the draft, Wheeler said that “What you have suggested in terms of releasing the preliminary discussion draft of the Order runs contrary to Commission procedure followed over the years by both Democratic and Republican Chairs. If decades of precedent are to be changed, then there must be an opportunity for thoughtful review in the lead up to any change.” He also noted that the FCC’s process is “designed to give Commissioners a three-week period to discuss in confidence the substance of an item before final decisions are released. This is commonplace for administrative agencies and closely resembles the way that appellate courts – including the Supreme Court – hear public argument, confer privately, share their views and review drafts confidentially, and then issue their public decision.” The Order is scheduled to be considered at the FCC’s February 26, 2015, Open Meeting. See the Regulatory Mix dated 2/6/15
Separately, the FCC released a News Release entitled “What People Are Saying About
President Obama’s Plan To Regulate The Internet” that provides excerpts from statements by various individuals and publications with links to the full documents.
The PUC’s ALJ will hold an All-Party Meeting regarding the proposed merger of Comcast with Time Warner on February 25, 2015. The meeting will encompass a discussion of the implications of the proposed merger for California consumers and businesses including its potential effects on service quality, Internet access, and broadband infrastructure development and deployment. See the Regulatory Mix dated 2/16/15. Parties should R.S.V.P. to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 pm on February 19, 2015.