Possible agreement at the CPUC to investigate AT&T, Verizon networks

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

A streamlined version of a decision aimed at accelerating an investigation of AT&T’s and Verizon’s wireline networks is on the table at the California Public Utilities Commission.

The debate surrounds a study of wireline network quality that has been in the works at the CPUC since 2011. Commission president Michael Picker wants to cancel the investigation, an idea that Verizon and AT&T greeted with wild enthusiasm.

Two other commissioners – Mike Florio and Catherine Sandoval – weren’t so enamoured and offered an alternate draft that 1. ripped AT&T and Verizon a new conduit for not meeting service standards (in proper legal language, of course), 2. set out other justifications for speeding it up instead of scrapping it altogether, and 3. set a six month deadline for finally getting the study underway.

Commissioner Carla Peterman objected to some of the more pointed comments in Florio’s and Sandoval’s draft during the most recent CPUC meeting a couple weeks ago, basically saying that a lot of the rhetoric was unnecessary and distracting, and all that was really needed was to clearly say get it done. If the language, but not the clear directive, of the draft was toned down, she indicated she’d be amenable to backing it.

The new version seems to meet that request. Peterman’s support is important, because it means there are three votes – the minimum needed – in favor of speeding up the investigation and get independent, neutral information about AT&T’s and Verizon’s rotting copper in California, rather than having to constantly referee arguments between the companies themselves and groups with a vested interest, of whatever kind, in the outcome.

The vote is scheduled for tomorrow.