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.
FCC Open Meeting 6/18/15
At its Open Meeting yesterday, the FCC adopted a Report and Order authorizing interconnected VoIP providers to receive numbering resources directly from the Numbering Administrator. See our Blog, “FCC Says VoIP Providers Can Get Numbers Directly,” dated 6/19/15.
The FCC adopted a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, and Memorandum Opinion and Order expanding the Lifeline program to support broadband services. Watch for our upcoming Blog article detailing this development.
In response to the FCC’s vote that failed to include a funding cap as part of its expansion of the Universal Service Fund’s Lifeline program, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) issued the following statement:
“The benefits of broadband Internet access and adoption are nearly boundless. We share the goal of making sure all Americans can connect to this fundamental tool of economic growth and social connectivity, but we cannot stand by as uncapped spending threatens to undermine the USF and its benefits. Unfortunately, it appears the order adopted by the FCC today – which still has not seen the light of day – fails to protect ratepayers from runaway costs and lacks necessary metrics to gauge performance,” said Upton and Walden. “We have called time-and-again for the FCC to rein in out of control costs in the USF. The commission has agreed that the program should be put on a budget, but despite this important recognition, there is still no fiscal restraint in sight.
Before making the necessary reforms to modernize the USF for the 21st century, the commission should ensure the fund’s long-term solvency. This includes capping the Lifeline program at its current level of $1.6 billion. We are disappointed the commission majority doesn’t share that commonsense goal.”
U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, issued the following joint statement concerning the same FCC action:
“Today, the FCC adopted a proposal to expand the Lifeline program to subsidize broadband Internet services for low-income households. We are not convinced that the measures taken by the FCC to address waste, fraud, and abuse are sufficient to warrant the expansion of the program. At our subcommittee hearing earlier this month, Committee members on both sides of the aisle expressed concern about the FCC fundamentally changing or growing Lifeline without fixing existing problems first. This expansion may be ‘too much, too soon’ for a program plagued with problems and a lack of accountability in recent years.
Regardless if Lifeline is expanded to include broadband, we urge the FCC to adopt critical measures to restore fiscal responsibility to ensure that the program serves those who truly need it. We also reiterate our call for the FCC to conduct a full program evaluation in accordance with GAO’s recommendations in its March 2015 report prior to adopting a final order expanding the Lifeline program to broadband.”
The Oregon PUC announced it will hold a telephone prehearing conference on July 8, 2015, to identify parties and establish a procedural schedule for consideration of CenturyLink’s Access Service Ordering and Billing System Consolidation Plan. The Commission strongly encourages any person wanting to participate as a party in these proceedings to file a petition to intervene before the prehearing conference. CenturyLink is consolidating its Access Service ordering and billing systems to streamline processes and systems across the company’s markets. During consolidation, it will move all Access Service Request (ASR) ordering to the Electronic Administration & Service Order Exchange (EASE) and the associated billing to Communications Data Group (CDG) Carrier Access Billing System (CABS). The consolidation is anticipated to be complete by May 30, 2016.