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.
NECA Average Schedules
The FCC approved the National Exchange Carrier Association, Inc.’s (NECA) proposed modification of average schedule formulas for interstate settlements disbursements in connection with the provision of interstate access services for the period beginning July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. The formula changes will increase settlement rates by 2.6% at constant demand. NECA said that the effects of the formula changes on individual average schedule companies will vary depending on each company’s size and demand characteristics. It calculated that 267 companies will experience increases in settlement rates and 46 study areas will experience decreases in settlement rates, at constant demand. NECA said that most of the increases are attributed to special access formulas across all line-size groups.
May Open Meeting
The FCC announced the tentative agenda for its May 25, 2016, Open Meeting. The items are as follows:
- Enhancing Public Safety and Network Reliability Through Communications Outage Reporting: A Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update the Part 4 communications network outage reporting requirements.
- Connect America Phase II Auction: A Report & Order adopting rules to implement a competitive bidding process for high-cost universal service support from Phase II of the Connect America Fund.
- Updating the Public Inspection File Requirements: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on proposals to eliminate the requirement that commercial broadcast stations retain copies of letters and emails from the public in their public inspection file and the requirement that cable operators reveal the location of the cable system’s principal headend.
Chairman Wheeler and CAF II Auction
In his blog, “All That’s Old Is New Again,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler lead with public safety and the critical importance of infrastructure services that rely on interconnected communications networks. He pointed out that like public safety, expanding broadband in rural America is, “is one of the FCC’s top priorities.”
In addition, Chairman Wheeler discussed next steps and plans needed to “unleash the power of the marketplace to expand broadband in remaining areas,” which is on the agenda for May’s meeting. In his blog, the Chairman stated that, “Building on the Commission’s experience with its Rural Broadband Experiments program, I’m proposing rules that would allocate over $2 billion over the next decade in Connect America Fund support for rural broadband through competitive bidding.”
The FCC authorized rural broadband experiment support in the amount of $37,695.60 for New Lisbon Broadband and Communications, LLC. New Lisbon will bring new broadband to 24 locations in seven census blocks in rural Indiana. The USAC was directed disburse the support in equal monthly installments over the 10-year term.
The PUC opened an investigation into the operations, practices, and conduct of T C Telephone LLC, d/b/a Horizon Cellular to determine whether T C Telephone violated the laws, rules, and regulations governing the manner in which California consumers are switched from one carrier to another and billed for telephone services. The scope of the proceeding was established at a prehearing conference. The PUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division staff found that the company switched approximately 850 consumers’ presubscribed telephone service provider without obtaining an independent Third Party Verification of the consumers’ consent; used deceptive marketing tactics, relying on a number of false and misleading representations; and targeted senior citizens and LifeLine customers. Staff also found that the company began operating under the d/b/a without notifying the PUC of its name change. Opening testimony is due May 13, 2016, and evidentiary hearings will take place on June 23 and 24, 2016.