Two commissioners buck CPUC president and vociferous opposition from AT&T and Verizon to push for wireline study

9 July 2015 by Steve Blum
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Not the view that AT&T and Verizon want you to see.

California public utilities commissioners Catherine Sandoval and Mike Florio want a full assessment of AT&T’s and Verizon’s wireline infrastructure in the state and have put a resolution on the table that would tell the CPUC to get on with the job. By doing so, they’re opposing a move by commission president Michael Picker to short circuit the CPUC’s existing investigation into the state of California’s copper telephone networks.

The proposed decision – technically an alternate to Picker’s – highlights problems with networks in the Los Angeles area during winter rain and flooding in 2010 which “raised questions about the ability of existing network infrastructure to provide the quality of service required by statute, especially during storm or other emergency conditions”. Another consideration is Frontier Communications’ pending purchase and, presumably, refurbishment of Verizon’s copper.

The fact that traditional dial-tone telephone service is on the decline is no defence, the draft says, because 21st century telecoms rely on those networks too

These concerns are not alleviated by recent increases in the use of wireless and VoIP technology as a platform for communications. Those services, like traditional (landline) telephone service, are often dependent on ILEC wires and other facilities to transmit calls. This makes it particularly troubling that parties to this proceeding have alleged that both AT&T and Verizon are not maintaining their existing legacy facilities. This claim, if true, would affect voice communications made through all three platforms (wireless, VoIP, and landline).

Verizon and AT&T don’t want the investigation to happen, offering instead “vociferous” opposition. Picker agrees with them, Florio and Sandoval don’t. That leaves it up to the two remaining commissioners – Carla Peterman and Liane Randolph – to decide. If one or both want to know the ground truth, the enquiry will move ahead.