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.
PUC Resolution T-17470 adopts a proposal by Verizon Wireless, Inc. LLC to resolve past unpaid public purpose program surcharges and user fees owed prior to February 2012. Verizon will pay $11,521,595 in past unpaid surcharges and user fees owed, plus interest, from the sale of prepaid wireless services prior to February 2012. This represents the full amount of all surcharges and user fees owed ($10,545,989) plus interest calculated at a simple 10% rate ($975,606). No penalties were assessed. See the Regulatory Mix dated 5/8/15.
The PUC has extended the comment date in the review of its rules regulating basic emergency service. The proposed rules will entirely replace the current temporary ALI Rules. The PUC’s actions are intended to encourage and promote a statewide transition to internet protocol (IP) based Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1), without compromising 9-1-1 reliability, resiliency, affordability, and outage reporting. Initial comments are now due no later than June 25, 2015, and reply comments are due no later than July 17, 2015. TMI Regulatory Bulletin Service subscribers see Bulletin dated 5/18/15.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced he had circulated proposals to ““reboot” Lifeline for the Internet age.” The proposals are aimed at making the program more “efficient, accountable, and effective at helping low-income consumers access the communications technology they need to participate in today’s society, while proposing additional protections against waste, fraud and abuse.” The proposal will be voted on at the FCC’s June 18, 2015, Open Meeting. The Chairman is proposing to:
- Establish minimum service standards for both voice and broadband to ensure that both Lifeline subscribers and ratepayers are getting the best possible value from the service delivered and seek comment on what those standards should be.
- Relieve providers of the responsibility to verify subscriber eligibility for Lifeline service and seek comment on other ways to verify eligibility (e.g., by establishing a neutral third party administrator) and how to ensure that the program targets those most in need of the support.
- Seek comment on how to encourage providers and states to participate in the program.
The Chairman is also proposing to adopt a Report and Order that would: (1) Require providers to retain documentation regarding the eligibility of their Lifeline customers to facilitate oversight and audits; (2) extend all record retention requirements from three to ten years; and (3) increase program transparency by making key performance data easily available to the public. The Chairman also posted a blog on the subject, covering many of the same points. T
Reacting to the Chairman’s announcement, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) issued the following statement: “Broadband adoption creates countless opportunities for individuals and small businesses and is a welcome generator of economic growth and jobs. The time is ripe for reforming the Universal Service Fund to meet the communications and technology environment of the 21st century – unfortunately, this proposal misses the mark on the reforms we need,” said Upton and Walden, “We have long called for the need to cap the USF, and each fund within it, to ensure that ratepayer dollars are spent wisely. Simply expanding the program without ensuring its effectiveness or longevity is the wrong approach if we’re going to do right by those who pay for the program, and those who depend on it.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that he has circulated a proposal to protect Americans from unwanted robocalls, spam text messages, and telemarketing calls. The proposal addresses two dozen petitions that sought clarity on how the FCC enforces the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The Chairman is proposing a set of actions that, if adopted, would “close loopholes and strengthen consumer protections already on the books.” The proposal will be voted on at the FCC’s June 18, 2015, Open Meeting. Among other thing, the proposed ruling would: (1) empower consumers to revoke their consent to receive robocalls and robotexts in any reasonable way at any time; (2) permit carriers to offer robocall-blocking technologies to consumers; (3) make it clear that if a number has been reassigned to a different consumer, callers must stop calling the number after one call; (4) define an autodailer as any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers; and (5) allow only a very limited and specific set of free calls or texts to be made to mobile phones without prior consent. The Chairman also posted a blog on the subject, reiterating the major points of his proposal.