Frontier's California takeover is on track for approval today

3 December 2015 by Steve Blum
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Not a Californian look, but hey, it beats Verizon’s finger.

No glitches for Frontier’s purchase of Verizon’s wireline phone systems in California. At this point the deal appears headed for approval without discussion: it’s on the California Public Utilities Commission’s consent agenda for today’s meeting and no one has asked that it be bumped to later, or taken off the consent agenda and taken up as a discussion item. The CPUC is the last major hurdle for the deal. Texas regulators have approved it, as have the feds, and Florida doesn’t seem to care.

The administrative law judge handling the review has posted revisions to his original draft decision. He did it in two batches; to see all the changes you needed to look at both redlined versions:

Revision 1 to proposed decision approving Frontier’s purchase of Verizon systems
Revision 2 to proposed decision approving Frontier’s purchase of Verizon systems

Most of the changes are housekeeping tweaks to the legal language, including more specific (and a bit watered down) language about Frontier’s responsibility to extend path diversity into remote rural areas. Otherwise, the requirement that Verizon bring its decaying utility poles and overhead wires up to CPUC standards was tightened up a bit and Frontier will have to disclose terms of some interconnection agreements. Even though more explicit, and arguably less ambitious, conditions might seem disappointing at first, the original, vaguer language could have proved problematic if – as you might expect – Verizon plays shyster games. Better to draw a clear line now.

The CPUC’s meeting is scheduled to start in San Francisco at 9:30 a.m. Last minute delays or changes are certainly possible, but the fact that this decision is on the consent agenda in the first place says that the working assumption is that everyone is on board. Not necessarily happy, but at least equally unhappy. That’s what’s called a good compromise.