The Telecommunications Division oversees the regulation of telephone service providers in the state of Alabama. This includes incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), the traditional providers of local telephone service. With the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the introduction of competition into the local service market, competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) likewise fall under the PSC's jurisdiction.
The Telecommunication Division is also responsible for regulating interexchange (toll) carriers (IXCs) as well as resellers of long distance services, pay phone service, hotel/motel telephone service and shared tenant telephone service. The PSC does not have jurisdiction over cellular telephone service in Alabama.
The Telecommunications Division is involved in the certification of telecommunication service providers; review and analysis of tariffs; review and analysis of financial reports; monitoring financial performance and rate compliance; and the review and analysis of service and service quality.
The division was reorganized in FY-00 and is now comprised of three primary sections: the Economic Analysis and Compliance Section, the Service Analysis and Compliance Section, and the Special Services Compliance Section.
Economic Analysis and Compliance Section
The Economic Analysis and Compliance Section of the Telecommunications Division reviews financial and rate information filed by telecommunications companies with the Commission.
Experienced auditors who report to the section supervisor head three teams in this section. These teams review annual financial reports, applications for authority to operate in the state of Alabama, tariff filings, local competition reports, plus resale and interconnection agreements. The section also conducts audits of regulated companies and participates in hearings regarding various telecommunications issues before the Commission.
During FY-00, staff in this section also participated in the arbitration of interconnection issues between BellSouth and various CLECs.
The staff monitors the operations of BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc. to ensure compliance with the Price Regulation and Local Competition Plan approved by the Commission on September 20, 1995. Staff reviews all tariff filings of incumbent local exchange companies, competitive local exchange companies, long distance companies, and operator service providers. Tariff filings become effective as filed unless an interested party intervenes or the Commission investigates a particular tariff filing.
The section reviewed 206 interconnection, resale, and collocation agreements during the year. Analysts examine the agreements to determine whether such agreements comply with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as well as the rules and regulations of the Alabama Public Service Commission.
The staff ensures local exchange providers, interexchange carriers, long distance providers, and operator service providers report financial data to the Commission in a timely manner. Staff reviews incumbent local exchange carriers' service price index filings for accuracy and completeness. In FY-00, the staff performed audits of the Transition Service Fund, Alabama Service Fund, Primary Carrier Plan Fund and Area Calling Service Fund in accordance with Dockets 24499, 24472, 24030, 24865. Plus, staff reviewed rate rebalancing adjustments, Lifeline rates, and Area Calling Service plans filed by the incumbent local exchange companies.
In addition, the staff monitored the access charge reduction flow-through activities of long distance companies. The staff audited telecommunications companies to assure compliance with Commission rules and regulations.
Staff members reviewed BellSouth's Section 271 Application in Docket 25835 which includes monthly filings by BellSouth regarding service performance measures for unbundled network elements and resale of local services as well as monthly filings of data by CLECs. Furthermore, the staff continues to monitor progress in other states regarding performance measures and third-party testing of BellSouth's Operational Support Services.
Staff has been actively involved in Docket 25980 which provides for implementation of Universal Service requirements of Section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and Federal Communications Commission rules and regulations regarding Universal Service. These activities in FY-00 included participating in hearings to deaverage BellSouth's unbundled network element prices pursuant to FCC Rule 51.507(f). Staff also reviewed BellSouth and Verizon's utilization plans for federal Universal Service funding received by those companies. In addition, staff helped set forth reporting requirements for each of these companies so the Commission could more easily monitor the expenditures of federal Universal Service funding.
The staff assists the Commission, consumers, and telecommunications companies in matters relating to rates and tariffs, including rate and tariff matters filed with the FCC. The staff advises the Commission of the effect of proposed tariff revisions such as rate charges and changes in terms and conditions.
The staff processes the tariffs of telecommunications utilities regulated by the Commission. Staff reviews the tariffs for compliance with Commission rules and regulations and performs detailed analyses of tariffs as needed. When necessary, investigations are carried out to prepare reports for the Commission.
Staff also develops and administers a program of statistical, economical, and accounting analysis and evaluation of the utility's services, rates, and tariffs. The staff advises telecommunications utilities encountering tariff problems. Also, the staff holds conferences relating to procedural matters concerning rate and tariff applications.
The staff reviews the records of regulated telecommunications companies to ensure compliance with Commission rules and regulations. Changes to tariffs filed with the Commission are studied to make sure they are prepared properly, and the utilities are audited in connection with rates and tariffs to determine the basis of costs, billing determinants, and other accounting matters. The staff advises the utility's personnel on current tariff matters plus analyzes and suggests solutions regarding tariff issues.
During FY-00, the staff received 130 applications for toll resale and competitive local service in Alabama. The staff is responsible for determining whether the applicant can provide adequate service at a reasonable rate on an ongoing basis. This involves analyzing proposed tariffs for compliance with Commission rules and regulations. Analysts also evaluate products offered by the applicant to assure these services are in the public interest. Analysts must review the applicant's financial condition to determine the ability of the applicant to offer service on a long-term basis.
The staff received, reviewed, analyzed, and made recommendations on 867 tariff filings in FY-00.
Service Analysis And Compliance Section
The Service Analysis and Compliance Section monitors the quality of service of incumbent and competitive local exchange telephone companies operating in Alabama. The staff conducts inspections to compare existing levels of service with required APSC rules, industry standards and electrical and safety codes. The staff also reviews plant records and capital recovery rates and monitors construction work involving plant upgrades and additions.
Here is a summary of the services performed by the Service Analysis and Compliance Section during FY-00:
- Quality of Service Inspections were performed on these companies:
- E-Spire Communications
- New South Communications
- Ragland Telephone Co.
- Castleberry Telephone Co.
- Pine Belt Telephone Co.
- OTELCO Telephone Co.
- TDS - (Peoples) Telephone Co.
- GT COM - (Florala) Telephone Co.
- Union Springs Telephone Co.
- Ardmore Telephone Co.
- BellSouth - Ft. Mitchell Exchange
- The Service Analysis and Compliance Section conducted follow-up inspections on the following:
- Brindlee Mountain Telephone Co.
- Blountsville Telephone Co.
- Interstate/Valley Telephone Co.
- Gulf Telephone Co.
- BellSouth - Mobile District
- National Telephone Co.
- The Service Analysis and Compliance Section assisted the Consumer Services Section in the disposition of several telephone customer complaints.
- The Service Analysis and Compliance Section reviewed capital recovery studies and prepared orders for revised depreciation rates for the following companies (some in progress):
Special Services Compliance Section
|Frontier - Lamar County
|Alltel Telephone Co.
|New Hope Telephone Co.
|Ragland Telephone Co.
|Millry Telephone Co.
|National Telephone Co.
|Roanoke Telephone Co.
|Hayneville Telephone Co.
|Castleberry Telephone Co.
|Pine Belt Telephone Co.
|OTELCO Telephone Co.
|Moundville Telephone Co.
The Special Services Compliance Section monitors the quality of service provided and ensures proper rates are applied by Customer-Owned Coin-Operated Telephone Service (COCOTS) providers, Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) pay telephone service providers, Shared Tenant Service (STS) providers, and Hotels/Motels to ensure compliance with the Commission rules and regulations. The Compliance Section also verifies utility boundary lines for 34 local exchange carriers. The following is a summary of the section's activities in FY-00.
Pay Phone Service Providers' Inspections-2,921
- COMPLIANCE AUDITS-47
These audits were conducted to verify tariff rates and assure compliance with PSC rules and regulations.
- PROCESS FILINGS:
The compliance section certified these companies as service providers during FY-00:
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|Global Inter Active||U-4144|
|Coin Phone Management||U-4159|
|A K Communications||U-4126|
|T & S Communications||U-4125|
|Pay Phone Partners||U-4182|
|Piknik Products Co.||U-4192|
|J. White Enterprises||U-4083|
|Call West Communications||U-4089|
|Pay Tel Communications, Inc.||U-4212|
|Zane One, Inc.||U-4092|
|Fuke's Telephone Interconnect Service||U-4105|
|Paramount International Telecommunications, Inc. d/b/a R Network||U-4132|
|Infinity Networks, Inc.||U-4147|
|O D Communications||U-4187|
|Interstate Telecommunications of Ga., Inc.||U-4219|