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 Briefing.
At a speech before the New America Foundation, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler talked about principles for modernizing the Lifeline program to include support for broadband access. He identified five principles of Lifeline reform:
- Allow the program to support both fixed and mobile broadband service;
- Establish minimum standards of service that Lifeline providers must deliver in order to receive funds from the program;
- Improve Lifeline’s management and design;
- Make it easier for carriers to participate in the program; and
- Encourage robust participation in the program by eligible consumers.
Wheeler said the FCC would vote on new rules in the “not-too-distant” future and noted that, since both Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel have championed these reforms, “[b]y my math, that’s three votes for reforming Lifeline.”
In November 2015, the PUC opened an investigation into the state of competition among telecommunications providers in California. Yesterday it issued a ruling denying a number of motions including (a) the motions of AT&T and CTIA for a suspension and/or a six-month extension of the procedural schedule; (b) AT&T’s motion for immediate workshops; (c) Verizon Wireless’ motion to remove itself from the proceeding or in the alternative to suspend the schedule; and (d) Cox’s Motion to remove its affiliated entity from the list of Respondents. Among other things, the PUC pointed out multiple sources of authority regarding its investigation of the California telecommunications market as a whole, including the activities of VoIP carriers with certificated affiliates. The ruling includes the original Information Request with added clarifications. Initial responses are due March 15, 2016, Final responses are due April 15, 2016, and Supplemental responses are due June 1, 2016. The PUC will further defer responses to information requests 1, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19(a), 19(b) and 23 until the Supplemental response. The PUC said it will address the motion regarding the categorization (rate setting) of the proceeding in a separate ruling.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold a Technical Conference to discuss policy issues related to the reliability of the Bulk-Power System. The conference is scheduled for June 1, 2016, and will be open for the public to attend. Advance registration is not required, but is encouraged. FERC said it will issue an agenda at a later date.