Regulatory Review: Spring 2015

File No. AW-2015-0206 – In the Matter of a Working Case to Address Security Practices for Protecting Essential Utility Infrastructure

In 2012, the Missouri Public Service Commission opened a working case to address concerns about effective cybersecurity practices for protecting essential electric utility infrastructure. On February 19, 2015, the Commission’s Staff filed a motion in that case recommending that the Commission’s review of security practices should include all utilities and physical security threats as well as cybersecurity threats. On March 4, 2015, the Commission closed the earlier case and opened a new working case “to include all utilities, not just the electric utilities” and to “review and consider the physical and cyber security practices of all Missouri utilities.” An initial workshop with Commission Staff and utility industry representatives was held on March 23, 2015.

File No. TX-2015-0097 – In the Matter of a Proposed Rescission and Consolidation of Commission Rules Relating to Telecommunications

On October 14, 2014, in light of recent changes to the laws regulating telecommunications companies, the Commission opened a case for the purpose of rescinding telecommunications rules located in Chapters 2, 3, 30, 32, and 33 of the Commission’s rules and consolidating any telecommunications rules that remain necessary into a new Chapter 28.

On April 1, 2015, the Commission issued a finding of necessity and order of rulemaking that stated, “The Commission finds that the revisions are necessary to bring its rules in line with the changes that have occurred because of the substantial deregulation of the telecommunications industry in the last twenty years.” Also on April 1, 2015, the proposed rule revisions were transmitted to the Missouri Secretary of State for publication in the Missouri Register. On April 2, 2015, the Commission issued a notice of hearing on the rulemaking scheduled for July 6, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

File No. TW-2014-0012 – In the Matter of a Repository Docket in which to Gather Information about the Lifeline Program and Evaluate the Purposes and Goals of the Missouri Universal Service Fund

On July 11, 2013, the Commission Staff filed a motion to open a repository docket in which to gather information about the Lifeline Program and evaluate the purposes and goals of the Missouri Universal Service Fund (MoUSF). The Commission Staff attached its Lifeline Report, which reviewed the low-income component of the federal Lifeline program and the MoUSF fund. On July 17, 2013, the Commission issued an order opening a working case to gather information about the Lifeline program and evaluate the MoUSF. On or about August 30, 2013, comments were filed by numerous stakeholders in the telecommunications industry. Several stakeholders suggested that the Commission consider a state high-cost fund to provide support for voice service to customers in high-cost areas.

On December 18, 2013, the Commission issued an order expanding the case to gather information about the possible implementation of a MoUSF high-cost support program. The order stated, “The Commission agrees that implementation of a high-cost fund should be considered.”

On January 10, 2014, the Commission Staff filed a motion asking the Commission to request interested parties to file responses to a list of Staff questions about the creation of a MoUSF high-cost program. On January 15, 2014, the Commission issued an order inviting comments on the high-cost MoUSF fund. Numerous industry comments were received on February 14, 2014.

On July 7, 2014, the Commission Staff filed a recommendation that the Commission reduce the MoUSF assessment rate from .0017 to .0010. Staff also recommended that the Commission increase MoUSF monthly support from $3.50 to $6.50 in order to help keep pace with rising rates for basic local telecommunications service. The Commission ultimately adopted these changes in a different docket.

On December 9, 2014, the Commission Staff filed its Report on the disbursements to wireless telecommunications providers under the auspices of the low-income portion of the federal Universal Service Fund.
On April 6, 2015, the Commission Staff filed its report on the results of its investigation into the eligibility verification performed by ETCs in Missouri.

File No. TW-2012-0112 – An Investigation into Call Routing and Call Completion Problems in the State of Missouri

In 2011, two groups of small rural incumbent local exchange telephone companies filed separate pleadings asking the Commission to open an investigation to examine call routing and call completion problems in this state. In response to those pleadings, the Commission directed its Staff to indicate whether it believed an investigation was appropriate and to provide an outline of how such an investigation should be conducted. Staff advised the Commission to open a new investigative case conduct a workshop where various industry participants could explain the problem in greater detail, discuss possible solutions, and report on actions other jurisdictions have taken to alleviate the problems. The Commission did as Staff suggested.

On March 29, 2013, Staff filed a report regarding its investigation. Staff’s report concluded that call completion problems continued to exist, call completion problems appeared to occur only in rural out-state areas served by small incumbent local telephone companies, the primary cause of call completion problems appeared to be intentional traffic manipulation by certain intermediate providers (least-cost routers) used by some originating interexchange carriers. Staff acknowledged that the FCC was taking some actions to address this problem, but Staff suggested more prompt and directed action by the Missouri Commission may be appropriate.

On April 5, 2013, the Commission issued an order offering an opportunity to respond to Staff’s report. On May 3, 2013, comments were filed by CenturyLink, the Missouri Cable Telecommunications Association, the Missouri Small Telephone Companies, and Verizon.

On May 31, 2013, Staff filed a request seeking comment on recently passed legislation that modified the Commission’s authority to regulate telecommunications companies. Also on May 31, 2013, the Commission issued an order offering interested stakeholders the opportunity to comment on whether the bill, if signed by the Governor, would alter their previously expressed opinions about the Commission’s authority to address call routing and completion problems. The Commission’s order established a June 14, 2013 deadline for any such comments.

On January 1, 2014, the Commission’s Staff filed a copy of the FCC’s Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WC Docket 13-39 (released Nov. 8, 2013) on call completion issues in this docket. On February 25, 2014, the Commission’s Staff filed its FCC Comments on call completion issues.

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