CPUC will investigate AT&T, Verizon wireline network conditions

30 August 2015 by Steve Blum
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How much of it looks like this?

The condition of AT&T’s and Verizon’s copper telephone networks in California will be independently examined. By a vote of 4 to 1, the California Public Utilities Commission decided to speed up an existing study of wireline systems in the state, instead of scrapping it altogether.

That study has been in the works since 2011. It isn’t popular with AT&T or Verizon, which put up vociferous opposition, or with CPUC president Michael Picker, who voted against it on Thursday.

But the other four commissioners disagreed. The CPUC’s review of Frontier Communication’s proposed purchase of Verizon’s wireline systems, which included a series of public hearings around the state, put a spotlight on decaying infrastructure.

“I’ve probably spent more time than most of you looking at telephone lines and conduits. We’ve seen a lot of things out there that do evidence deterioration in the network”, commissioner Catherine Sandoval, who conducted the hearings, said. “Communities are very concerned about what’s going on in the network, in the physical network”.

Sandoval and fellow commissioner Mike Florio opposed Picker’s attempt to cancel the investigation. The crucial third vote emerged a couple of weeks ago when commissioner Carla Peterman said she could support it if some changes were made.

The study could inform several decisions commissioners will have take in coming months. But it’s likely to be a while before any useful data is generated – commissioners gave staff six months leeway just to get it started. That frustrated Peterman, who urged managers to hurry it along, saying “I continue to be amazed at the various hurdles we have to jump through in order to implement our decisions”.