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 Briefing.
Sprint Long Distance Service
The FCC approved Sprint’s application to discontinue its wireline consumer interstate long-distance services and associated features in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands as of September 29, 2015. Sprint also plans to discontinue outbound international services to consumers. The specific services at issue are its Message Telecommunications Service (i.e., 1+ long distance), FŌNCARD, Directory Assistance, and Operator Services. Several customers opposed the petition, but the FCC found that Sprint had sufficiently addressed customer concerns through its direct efforts to assist them in finding replacement services at acceptable rates from alternative providers. The FCC also rejected concerns expressed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe Utility Commission (OSTUC), which asked the FCC to delay its action until Sprint complied with OSTUC-imposed discontinuance obligations. The FCC said the issues raised by OSTUC did not bear directly on the criteria it must use when considering discontinuance applications. Since Sprint met all applicable FCC requirements, the FCC approved the application.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The FCC is seeking comment by October 29, 2015, on a petition for declaratory ruling concerning the TCPA. The petition, filed by Broadnet Teleservices, LLC (Broadnet), asks the FCC to declare that the TCPA and FCC’s implementing rules do not apply to calls made by or on behalf of federal, state, and local governments when such calls are made for official purposes. Broadnet asks the FCC to include legislative, judicial, and executive bodies, and those who act on behalf of such government entities, in its declaration. Broadnet said that, in the absence of such action, consumers who “rely on their wireless phones as their primary, or only, means of telephone communication will be deprived of important opportunities to engage with their government as wired citizens currently enjoy” and that these individuals deserve the same access to democracy and the same engagement with policymakers that is currently only possible for individuals with access to landline phones. Reply comments are due November 13, 2015.
The PUC consolidated Proceeding Nos. 15M-0158T (distribution of Colorado High Cost Support Mechanism) and 14M-0947T (consideration of effective competition for basic service) for procedural purposes only and vacated the previously scheduled hearings in Proceeding No. 14M-0947T. Under the terms of a Settlement Agreement proposed by the parties, the PUC would declare 46 of the 48 wire center serving areas at issue in Phase I of Proceeding No. 14M-0947T to have effective competition for basic service effective January 1, 2016. A new procedural schedule (see Proceeding No. 15M-0158T, Attachment A, filed Sep 29, 2015) has been proposed that includes a hearing on the proposed Settlement Agreement on November 16-18, 2015. The scope of the hearing includes all relevant issues concerning whether the PUC should adopt the proposed Settlement Agreement. One of those issues is whether the PUC should adjudicate certain wire centers at issue in 14M-0947T as effective competition areas (“ECAs”) under C.R.S. § 40- 15-207(1)(b).