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 that the Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC or Council) will meet Monday, September 21, 2015. The CSRIC is a federal advisory committee that provides recommendations to the FCC regarding best practices and actions the FCC can take to help ensure security, reliability, and interoperability of communications systems and infrastructure. At the meeting, the Council will hear progress reports from the Steering Committee and each of its working groups on their formation and initial meetings.
The PSC is considering whether it should ask the Utah Legislature, during the 2016 General Session, to consider a proposed statutory change that would allow it to adjudicate certain types of applications without a hearing. The PSC notes that in telecommunication dockets involving applications for a certificate of public convenience and necessity or applications for transfer of assets often there is a desire by parties to have the PSC adjudicate these applications without a hearing. Currently Utah Code Ann. §§ 54-4-30 and 54-4-25(3)(c) prevent the PSC from doing so. The proposal would allow these matters to proceed informally under certain circumstances, saving both time and expense for the parties. The PSC is seeking feedback before it moves forward on this proposal. Comments may be submitted by September 25, 2015.
National Lifeline Awareness Week, Sept. 14–20, 2015
NARUC, the FCC, and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates are designating September 14-20 as “National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week.” Among the states also recognizing Lifeline Awareness Week are:
The PSC will host information sessions on Tuesday, September 15, in Orange County, for residents to learn about the Lifeline Assistance (Lifeline) discounted telephone program.
The PSC and Governor Nathan Deal recognized 9/14-20, 2015, as National Lifeline Awareness Week in Georgia. “We want to make eligible Georgians aware of this program which can provide this crucial link to services and family in times of need,” said Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton.
During “Lifeline Awareness Week” the PUC and OPA will promote the Lifeline Assistance Program which offers discounts to help residents have access to basic telephone service. “Access to local emergency services and community resources is vital to Maine’s low-income and elderly residents,” stated Mark Vannoy, Chairman of the PUC. “We encourage customers who are eligible to take advantage of the Lifeline Program for a land line or a cell phone, depending on their needs” stated Public Advocate Tim Schneider.
In a Press Release about Lifeline Awareness Week, the PSC highlighted the Lifeline telephone discount service available to low-income customers. PSC Chairman John D. Quackenbush noted that the Lifeline discount is especially helpful to low-income veterans. He said, “For veterans going through tough financial times or struggling to find a job, the Lifeline program can mean the difference between affording telephone service and going without.” To highlight the program to veterans, the PSC is participating in several expositions around the state. On 9/18/15, the PSC will have an informational exhibit in Benton Harbor as part of the Veterans Stand Down rally. In October, the exhibit will be in Detroit at the Southeastern Michigan Stand Down, and in November it will move to Flint as part of the Veterans Expo there. The PSC’s Lifeline consumer tips sheet reflects the latest changes to the program, including income guidelines and other details.
“The Lifeline Program is important,” said PSC Commissioner and Missouri Universal Service Board Chairman Bill Kenney. “The Missouri Public Service Commission works with telephone providers and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure the integrity of the program. Stay connected. Call your local telephone provider to see if you qualify.”
- New York
In a Press Release the PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman said “Lifeline is an important federal initiative program that helps qualifying low-income consumers connect to the nation’s communication network. Having telephone service is a vital link to finding jobs, accessing health care services and calling for help in an emergency. The National Lifeline Awareness Week helps remind consumers and service providers about eligibility and other rules, including the annual recertification requirement, to make this program as efficient and effective as possible.”
The PUCO reminds low-income telephone consumers that assistance is available to stay connected to local resources and emergency services. Telephone customers who qualify for assistance will receive a discount of at least $9.25 per month on basic telephone service. It is important to remember that only one type of Lifeline Assistance benefit — landline or wireless — is permitted per household, and existing Lifeline customers must recertify their eligibility every year.