AT&T in no hurry to fix problems ahead of CPUC vote on tougher outage rules

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Carrier of last resort.

Later this morning, the California Public Utilities Commission, in its last regular meeting of the year, is scheduled to considered tightening the rules on what and when telephone companies have to report information about service outages. The proposed decision by commissioner Catherine Sandoval would also clamp down on the occasional practice by telephone and cable companies of attaching lines to trees in rural areas, rather than installing utility poles.

I’ve already written a couple of posts about the proposed decision, the result of an investigation into problems that rural residents have with completing calls and otherwise receiving phone service. You can read the overview here, and if you’re interested in some specifics regarding AT&T, you can find that post here.

Sandoval published a revised version of the decision late yesterday afternoon, and it contains no major surprises or changes. In the no surprise category was an observation that phone companies still don’t get it…

We are concerned that after publication of the Proposed Decision customers in Mendocino County, the Big Sur area, and other parts of California still report difficulty obtaining prompt repair to out‐of‐service or very poor line complaints, and in some cases report resistance by a [carrier of last resort] to providing basic telephone service when requested. We remind carriers of their duty under California law to carry and complete calls, to provide safe, reliable service at just and reasonable rates, to maintain high quality service throughout California, not to maintain unreasonable differences in services or facilities between localities or classes of service, and to provide access to 9‐1‐1 service, among other duties.

In case you’re keeping score, Big Sur is served by AT&T, as are the Mendocino County customers who reported continuing problems.

This morning’s meeting might be the last time the current five commissioners will all meet together. Sandoval’s term and that of fellow commissioner Mike Florio expire at the end of the year, and governor Brown has not announced whether he will reappoint them. If you have an opinion on the subject, a note to the governor would not go amiss.

Revised draft (14 December 2016) of commissioner Sandoval’s proposed decision investigating rural call completion issues.

Redlined version of the revised draft (15 December 2016), if you just want see what’s new.