How the CPUC's regulate ISPs as common carriers, oops, never mind drama played out

15 September 2014 by Steve Blum

Click to see the video.

The California Public Utilities Commission spent more than an hour listening to a presentation and then discussing net neutrality and broadband regulation issues on Thursday, before voting 3 to 2 to tell the FCC that it should treat broadband infrastructure companies as common carriers – no different, in concept, than electric, gas, water or, indeed, telephone companies.

But then something happened, as you can see on the video:

CPUC Commission Voting Meeting – September 11, 2014

The vote comes around the 2:33:30 mark. The issues on the table and the ramifications of the vote were reviewed in excruciating detail ahead of time – no confusion there. Commissioner Carla Peterman leads off with a yes vote, in favor of common carrier – Title II – regulation, followed quickly by commissioners Mike Florio and Catherine Sandoval. Michael Picker votes no.

As does president Michael Peevey, who then says “so that’s what’s adopted. All the other pieces go with that. There is no need for any other vote on any other matters”. He then looks down the table in Peterman’s direction and says “unless anyone wants to reconsider their vote rather quickly”.

Peterman, at least, seemed to think he was looking at her. She quickly said no, and the meeting moved on.

The commissioners worked through the rest of the agenda and then Peevey called for a 5 minute break.

Not unreasonable, given they’d been sitting there more than 3 hours. Except the meeting was over: all that remained was a few seconds of formalities to close it.

The 5 minutes turned into 20, before they returned (about 3:33:00 on the video).

At that point, Peevey reconvenes the meeting and then mumbles “I want to ask Carla, commissioner Peterman, to say something here”.

Peterman then explained she wanted to rescind her yes vote, in the hopes that the commission could eventually come to a unanimous position on net neutrality and broadband infrastructure regulation.

So that was that. But for about an hour, the CPUC was on record calling for the FCC to regulate broadband service providers – to one extent or another – as common carriers. They’ll resume the discussion next month.