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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 03-1429



Proposed Modifications to the Review of Interconnection Agreements

[33 Pa.B. 3578]

Public Meeting held
June 26, 2003

Commissioners Present:  Terrence J. Fitzpatrick, Chairperson; Robert K. Bloom, Vice Chairperson; Aaron Wilson, Jr.; Glen R. Thomas; Kim Pizzingrilli

Proposed Modifications to the Review of Interconnection Agreements; M-00960799

Tentative Order

By the Commission:

I.  Introduction

   On June 3, 1996, the Commission entered an Order (Implementation Order) at Doc. No. M-00960799 implementing in this Commonwealth provisions of the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (act). Included in the Implementation Order were specific procedures and requirements relating to the regulation of Interconnection Agreements.

   During the time that has elapsed since the entry of the Implementation Order, a number of issues have arisen in the context of processing Interconnection Agreements. This Order will review specific requirements and procedures contained in the Implementation Order and, where issues have been identified, propose procedural modifications to address them.

   It should be noted that this Order addresses only issues apparent at this point in time. This Order does not attempt to anticipate future issues that may arise as the regulatory process continues to evolve. Moreover, it is the intent of the Commission to revisit the issues addressed herein 1 year after this Order becomes final to determine whether the procedural modifications have brought about the desired result. At that time, the Commission may further modify these procedures as well as address any other issues that may arise. Although this Order makes specific proposals for changes in respect to how the Commission processes Interconnection Agreements, we are seeking additional input from the industry and expressly recognize that the option remains to maintain the status quo or to impose procedures different than those suggested here.

   In an attempt to involve the telecommunications community in this process, on November 1, 2002, we served a copy of Proposed Modifications on all Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) and Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) as well as the Pennsylvania Telephone Association. Notice of the proposed modifications was also published at 32 Pa.B. 5485 (November 2, 2002).

   In the published notice, we requested comments by November 22, 2002, and reply comments by December 6, 2002; however, due to a problem in posting the initial comments on the Commission website, the reply comment period was extended until December 20, 2002. Verizon Pennsylvania Inc. (Verizon PA) requested, and was granted, an extension until December 24, 2002, for the submission of reply comments. Comments were filed by ALLTEL/North Pittsburgh Telephone Company (ALLTEL), MCI WorldCom Network Services, Inc. (MCIW), Sprint Communications Company L. P./United Telephone Company of Pennsylvania (Sprint), Verizon PA and Level 3 Communications LLC (Level 3). Reply Comments were filed by Verizon PA.

II.  Implementation Order Overview

   In our Implementation Order, we stated as follows:

The development of an interconnection agreement commences on the day a carrier receives a request for interconnection from another carrier (day 1). It is absolutely essential, and through this order we will require that each carrier requesting an interconnection agreement from another carrier shall file a copy of the request with the Commission at the requesting carrier's A-docket.

   (Implementation Order at 24).

   The act established a 160-day period, beginning with Day 1, as defined in the Implementation Order (that is, the day a carrier receives a request for interconnection from another carrier), within which the parties may negotiate the terms of interconnection. During that time period, any party may request that the Commission mediate the interconnection request. If mediation is requested, the Commission appoints a mediator who proceeds in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Implementation Order.

   Included in the 160-day negotiation period is a 25-day period from Days 135--160 within which any of the parties may request arbitration of any or all unresolved issues whenever negotiation and/or mediation fails. Section 252(b)(1). The act specifies that the Commission must resolve all outstanding issues within 9 months of the date that interconnection is first requested (Day 1).1 Section 252(b)(4)(C). The act further specifies that the Commission must then act within 30 days of the date that an executed agreement resulting from arbitration proceedings is filed. Section 252(e)(4).

   In the Implementation Order, the Commission recognized that the act does not place any time constraints on the parties after Day 160 with respect to negotiated and/or mediated interconnection agreements. As a result, the Implementation Order establishes a 30-day period after the close of the negotiation period (Day 160), or by Day 190, within which the parties to a negotiated and/or mediated agreement must file an executed agreement with the Commission. Implementation Order at 33. Once filed, the Commission, as required by the act, must then complete review within 90 days. Section 252(e)(4).

   Likewise, in the case of arbitrated agreements, the act does not specify when an executed agreement that results from arbitration proceedings must be filed with the Commission. In the Implementation Order, the Commission specified that an executed agreement resulting from arbitration must be filed with the Commission within 30 days of the date of entry of the Order resolving the arbitration proceedings. Implementation Order at 33. The Commission, in accordance with the act, then has 30 days within which it must complete its review of the filed agreement. Section 252(e)(4).

   In summary, the time period established by the act and our Implementation Order for an interconnection agreement arrived at through negotiations and/or mediation is as follows: 160 days for negotiation and/or mediation; 30 days for the parties to file an executed agreement with the Commission; and 90 days for the Commission to act on the filing. This results in a maximum time period of 280 days from the date a party first requests interconnection until entry of a Commission Order finally acting on the agreement arrived at through negotiation. With respect to arbitrated agreements, the maximum time period is 330 days: 160 days for negotiation and/or mediation (including a 25-day period of time from Day 135 to Day 160 within which a party may request arbitration); a 25-day time period for comments, if any, to be filed to the arbitration request; a minimum of 85 days (until Day 270) within which the Commission must arbitrate the request and enter an Order approving or rejecting the arbitrated agreement; 30 days within which the parties must file an executed agreement in compliance with the Order; and 30 days for the Commission to act on the filing.

   In both cases, if the Commission fails to meet its responsibility under the act to act within the prescribed 90 days (in the case of negotiated and/or mediated agreements) and 30 days (in the case of arbitrated agreements), the Interconnection Agreement is deemed approved under section 252(e)(4) of the act and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may assume jurisdiction under section 252(e)(5).

III.  Issues Relative to the act and the Implementation Order

   In the time since entry of our Implementation Order in 1996 that the Commission has been reviewing Interconnection Agreements, several issues have arisen with respect to the foregoing time-related requirements. What follows is a discussion of those issues, as identified in our November 1, 2002, Notice of Proposed Modifications, along with a summary of the comments submitted by interested parties and a statement of our tentative resolution of those issues.

A.  Failure to Notify Commission about the Initial Interconnection Request Date (Day 1)

   This has been a recurring problem since entry of the Implementation Order. Routinely, the requesting interconnection carrier2 has not been advising the Commission of the date that it initially requested interconnection with an ILEC as required by the Implementation Order. This results in the Commission not knowing when any of the time periods prescribed either by the act or by the Implementation Order actually begin.

1.  Initially Recommended Solution

   The initially recommended solution was to require that ILECs formally notify the Commission of the date (Day 1) on which another carrier first requests interconnection. It was proposed that notification be in writing and submitted to the Secretary within 20 days after a request for interconnection. It was also suggested that the notification state whether the Day 1 date pertains to a new interconnection agreement (that is, the first time the ILEC is interconnecting with the requesting carrier), an amended or revised interconnection agreement, a replacement interconnection agreement or an ''opt-in'' request regarding an existing interconnection agreement. In all instances, except when the Commission has not established an A-docket for the requesting carrier, the ILEC would be required to reference in the notice the Commission A-docket assigned to the requesting carrier. Where the requesting carrier has no A-docket assigned, the ILEC would be required to note that fact and the Secretary would then assign an A-docket as noted in the Implementation Order.

   This was a departure from what is required by the Implementation Order. The Implementation Order states that it is the obligation of the requesting carrier to notify the Commission of the date when interconnection is requested. However, since we do not have jurisdiction over all requesting carriers, enforcement of this requirement is problematic. As a result, we proposed placing the notice requirement on the ILEC.

2.  Filed Comments

   ALLTEL argued that it should not be the burden of the ILEC to notify the Commission or to identify and/or obtain an A-docket number and that this is an unreasonable and discriminatory burden to place on the ILEC. ALLTEL further argued that the proposal is contrary to the act, anticompetitive and places a significant burden on the ILEC. Finally, ALLTEL stated that the act gives the Commission jurisdiction over Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) carriers for certain purposes including interconnection agreements. Therefore, argued ALLTEL, the Commission has authority to require the CMRS carriers to follow our regulations and, if we are unable to enforce our jurisdiction, the corrective action is through the courts or by seeking an amendment to our enabling legislation.

   Sprint's filed comments are consistent with those of ALLTEL. In addition, Sprint stated that CLECs and the CMRS carriers are in the best position to supply the necessary information and that they have the motivation and need to proceed with a Day 1 notice to the Commission. As a result, Sprint urged that the existing practice not be modified and that the responsibility to issue the Day 1 notice to the Commission continue to be that of the requesting carrier.

   Verizon PA's comment on this issue is that the proposed modification should not be adopted and, moreover, that the requirement of a Day 1 notification by the requesting carrier should be eliminated. Verizon PA further stated that maintaining or enforcing this obligation against either the ILEC or the requesting carrier would hinder negotiations between the parties, and the problem that the proposed modification seeks to address would not be solved by shifting the burden of compliance to the ILECs. Verizon PA's reason for taking this position is that the requesting carrier and the ILEC often engage in exploratory discussions that are not considered, for various reasons, to be the start of the interconnection request date. Verizon PA argued that requiring notice of the first day of an interconnection request would have a chilling effect on the exploratory discussions as well as potentially lead to disagreements over when the actual ''start'' date of the negotiations occurred.

3.  Tentative Resolution

   It is important to note that this proposed modification to our implementation procedures addresses increasing concerns over interconnection agreements not being filed with the Commission for review and approval until many months have passed since the agreements have been executed. During this time, in most instances, the parties are operating under the agreements without Commission approval and without the knowledge of other carriers or potential carriers that may desire to opt-in to the agreement. The act established a 9-month period from the day interconnection is first requested (Day 1) within which all outstanding issues must be resolved and the agreement either approved or denied. The Implementation Order set the specific time periods for the Commission to allow it to meet the mandates of the act and defined Day 1 as the date interconnection is first requested by one carrier of another carrier. If a Day 1 is not defined, there is no point of reference from which to determine the 9-month period mandated by the act and the interconnection process could go on indefinitely.

   In the Comments filed on this issue, the ILECs generally take the position that it is not their responsibility to notify the Commission of a request for interconnection. Verizon PA takes the added position that the Day 1 notice requirement be eliminated altogether because the negotiations go back and forth over a period of time, there is no clearly defined beginning of the request process and enforcing a Day 1 process has a chilling effect on the negotiations.

   While the Implementation Order indeed specified that it is the responsibility of the requesting carrier to notify the Commission of the date interconnection is first requested, if a requesting carrier does not yet have CLEC authority, the Commission's ability to enforce this requirement is problematic. Moreover, the proposal to require the ILEC to notify the Commission does not appear to have onerous administrative implications for the ILEC despite their protestations to the contrary. All that is required is a brief one-page letter to the Secretary of the Commission stating that on a particular date, a named carrier requested interconnection with the ILEC. If the requesting carrier is a CLEC, it will have an A-docket that should be referenced in the notice. If the requesting carrier is not a CLEC, then that fact only needs to be referenced in the notice and the Secretary will assign an A-docket.

   With respect to Verizon PA's proposal to eliminate the Day 1 requirement, in all practical respects, this is what is currently happening since notification by requesting carriers is not being done in many instances, despite the clear language in our Implementation Order. The timelines specified in the act presumably are there to protect the requesting carrier from any delaying tactics by the ILEC. If a requesting carrier fails to notify the Commission when it requests interconnection with an ILEC, the 9-month clock under the act never starts and the carrier cannot then complain to the Commission that the ILEC is causing a delay by refusing to negotiate. The Commission's only responsibility in this instance is to act promptly on the Agreement once it has been filed with the Commission, that is, within 90 days of the date of filing. If, however, the requesting carrier notifies the Commission when interconnection is first requested, the 9-month clock starts and the responsibility to negotiate falls on the ILEC as well as the requesting carrier.

   At section 252(b)(4)(c), the act expressly mandates that the interconnection request process take no longer than 9 months. If we are to adhere to the act, some form of enforceable requirement to notify the Commission of the Day 1 date is required. For the foregoing reasons, we tentatively require that the ILEC notify the Commission of a request for interconnection within 20 days of the date interconnection is requested as previously discussed.

B.  Failure to File an Executed Interconnection Agreement with the Commission within 30 Days After the Agreement is Signed

   This issue probably has the most significance since, routinely, with respect to negotiated and/or mediated agreements, parties have been ignoring the directive in our Implementation Order to file the executed agreement within 30 days of the date it is signed. The parties have been taking several months, and even longer, after a negotiated agreement has been executed before filing the agreement with the Commission for approval. In the interim, the parties, in most cases, begin operating under the agreement as soon as it has been executed regardless of the fact that the agreement has not been either filed with, or approved by, the Commission. In several instances, the interconnection agreement has actually expired either prior to, or during, the 90-day review period while it is pending before this Commission for approval. The concern here is that the parties to the agreement are operating under an agreement that has not been filed with the Commission, has not been published for public comment, has not been approved by the Commission and is not available to any other carrier to opt-in to should a carrier so desire.

1.  Initially Recommended Solution

   In the Proposed Modifications published in November 2002, we stated that any recommended solution to this problem must impose the requirement for compliance on both the requesting carrier and the ILEC providing interconnection, and must also take into consideration the fact that the Commission may not assert jurisdiction over all requesting carriers (for example, wireless carriers). In many instances where this problem has occurred, the ILEC in question has indicated that the requesting carrier delays signing the joint petition for approval of the agreement that is to be filed with the Commission under the Implementation Order. The precise reasons for the delay are not known, but it is significant to note that there is no incentive for the requesting carrier to sign the petition since, in most cases as stated previously, operation under the agreement commences upon the agreement being executed. The initially recommended solution, therefore, was to permit and/or require the ILEC in question to not operate under the agreement until the time the requesting carrier signs the joint petition requesting approval of the executed agreement.

   It was also proposed that the Commission enforce the civil penalty provisions under section 3301 of the Public Utility Code, 66 Pa.C.S. § 3301, against all jurisdictional carriers whereby a fine could be imposed on the ILEC and on any jurisdictional interconnecting carrier for each day filing is delayed beyond the initial 30-day grace period provided for filing an executed Interconnection Agreement by the Implementation Order.

   By adopting this initially recommended modification to our implementation procedures, the burden would then fall on the ILEC and the requesting carrier, both jurisdictional and nonjurisdictional, to ensure that the effective date of the executed interconnection agreement would not be surpassed by more than 30 days at the time and date it is filed with the Commission. This procedure would also assist in developing an awareness in the requesting carrier and the ILEC that the Commission will not tolerate late filings, and thus, hopefully, reduce the number of late filings.

2.  Filed Comments

   ALLTEL argued that it is unreasonable and discriminatory to impose a fine on the ILEC when the responsibility for filing the agreement with the Commission within 30 days after the agreement is signed should be placed on the requesting carrier.

   Sprint listed several concerns with our proposal. First, Sprint argued that the 30-day time period is unreasonable and unrealistic and that the parties should be afforded up to three extensions (that is, a total of up to 90 additional days) in which to file an executed agreement. Only after that period should any process for the assessment of penalties be invoked.

   Secondly, Sprint stated that agreements are typically drafted to become effective upon execution and that, therefore, no harm or prejudice occurs to either party or to the public if the agreements are filed 30 or 60 days after execution. As a result, Sprint asserts that penalties are unwarranted. Sprint also noted that the Proposed Modifications fail to address any process by which penalties would be invoked, and that there are less restrictive alternatives available. Sprint stated that the Commission could eliminate the requirement that a joint petition be submitted and permit the executed agreement to be filed with a cover letter as in the case of tariffs. Such a proposal, according to Sprint, would reduce the administrative burden on the ILEC and, presumably, hasten the process. As a result, Sprint recommended that the proposal to impose penalties be rejected.

   Similarly, Verizon PA recommended that the requirement that parties file a joint petition be eliminated and replaced with a provision whereby the ILEC would be allowed to file a petition for approval of a jointly signed agreement on behalf of the ILEC and the requesting carrier. Verizon stated that the ILEC would attest that the agreement is true and correct. Simultaneous with filing the agreement with the Commission, the ILEC would serve a copy on the requesting carrier who would then have 30 days in which to notify the Commission if the filed agreement was not indeed true and correct.

   MCIW filed two Comments to the Proposed Modifications that do not specifically address this issue but which will be considered herein nonetheless. MCIW argued that no party should be permitted to put position statements in the Interconnection Agreement cover letter and that specific procedures should be adopted for carriers that opt-in to existing Interconnection Agreements.

   Level 3 did not file any Comments on this issue and Verizon's Reply Comments generally agreed with the Comments of the other parties although Verizon did object to the Comments of MCIW.

3.  Tentative Resolution

   Sprint's suggestion that the parties be permitted up to three 30-day extensions within which to file a copy of an executed agreement with the Commission is rejected on its face. Once the agreement has been executed, the parties have concluded negotiations, reduced the agreement to writing and have jointly signed the agreement. In most cases, the parties also begin operating under the agreement at that point. At this point, there is no reason why the executed agreement cannot be filed with the Commission within 30 days.

   Also, Sprint's suggestion that no harm occurs if the agreement is filed 30 or 60 days after execution since the parties begin operating under the agreement as soon as it is executed ignores the fact that: (1) the Commission has not made a finding at that point that the agreement is in the public interest and nondiscriminatory; (2) other interested parties have not had an opportunity to comment on the agreement; and (3) any other party that might desire to opt-in to the agreement is precluded from doing so during the period that the filing of the agreement is delayed, thus potentially acting as a barrier to market entry of another entity.

   However, the suggestion by Sprint that the parties be permitted to file the agreement under a cover letter instead of a joint petition and the suggestion by Verizon that the ILEC be permitted to file a petition for approval of a jointly signed agreement in lieu of a joint petition appear to have merit.

   Regardless of whether the submittal is by a ''letter petition'' or a formal pleading, the requirement to submit the agreement should be imposed upon a jurisdictional entity and need not require the requesting carrier to participate in a joint filing, which has been the cause for delay in many instances. Additionally, the 30 days within which the requesting carrier would be allowed to notify the Commission if the agreement submitted by the ILEC is not a true and correct copy would not cause any appreciable delay in the review process since the Commission staff could complete its review within that time period and simply await any objection by the requesting carrier. In the absence of any objection, the agreement could be approved at a public meeting without further action. If a timely objection was filed, there would still be adequate time left in the 90-day review period to have the ILEC correct any deficiencies.

   The Commission has grave concerns with the current practice of late-filed agreements. This failure is, as stated previously, problematic in several ways not the least of which is the failure to comply with the Implementation Order as well as denying parties the opportunity to have the benefit of terms and conditions enjoyed by the CLEC that failed to timely file the agreement with the Commission. This discriminatory activity will not be tolerated as it could generally harm competitive markets as well as individual CLECs. As to the issue of penalties, the Commission has the authority under the Public Utility Code to ensure timely compliance with our regulations and orders. This includes the authority to impose penalties as may be appropriate. 66 Pa.C.S. §§ 504, 505, 506 and 3301. Consequently, the issue of penalties does need not be addressed here in the context of this review of our procedures. However, we will consider remedies for any future failures to comply with the procedures finally approved at this docket as may be warranted on a case-by-case basis.

   As a result, the Sprint/Verizon PA proposal, as previously described, is tentatively implemented instead of our originally proposed modification. In the interim, particular cases of noncompliance may be subject to review and potential enforcement on a case-by-case basis.

   With respect to MCIW's arguments, we agree that the cover letter accompanying an Interconnection Agreement is not the proper place for position statements by any party. We have not perceived this issue to be a problem at this point in time but we will monitor the issue and make a determination at the time of the 1-year review if further formal action is warranted. Likewise with respect to adopting specific procedures for opt-in agreements. In our experience, the existing procedures treating all Interconnection Agreements the same without distinction as to whether they are new agreements or opt-ins to existing agreements are adequate. However, we will also monitor this issue and modify it as necessary.

C.  Approval of an Interconnection Agreement Prior to a CLEC's Certification

   Neither the act nor the Implementation Order requires that a requesting carrier have Commission or Federal authority to operate prior to requesting interconnection. The Implementation Order, in fact, recognizes that some carriers may not have the requisite authority as follows:

If the requesting carrier does not have an A-docket, an A-docket shall be assigned by the Commission's Secretary at the time of filing of the interconnection agreement.

   (Implementation Order at 25).

   The previous language pertains to carriers that fall under this Commission's jurisdiction but have not yet been certificated (for example, CLECs), as well as carriers that, under Commonwealth law, are not subject to regulation by this Commission (for example, wireless carriers), and may not have received a Federal license to operate. The problem with dealing with uncertificated jurisdictional and nonjurisdictional carriers is that the Commission has no knowledge of the entity or requesting carrier until that entity files an interconnection agreement with the Commission. This further exacerbates the problem described earlier whereby parties to an interconnection agreement may have been operating under interconnection agreements for months before filing the agreement with the Commission for review.3

1.  Initially Recommended Solution

   The Proposed Modifications note that any requirement for certification of a carrier prior to seeking interconnection would only address those companies subject to our jurisdiction and not those we do not regulate. Any requirement would thus only address our current concerns about noncertificated jurisdictional carriers operating under approved executed Interconnection Agreements. Since we do not exercise jurisdiction over carriers such as wireless companies, they are not required to obtain Pennsylvania certification. However, we can realistically require any nonjurisdictional carrier desiring to operate under an interconnection agreement in this Commonwealth to fill out a brief, nonutility application or registration form (similar to what is done for customer-owned coin operated telephones).4 The nonutility application/registration form would be completed by the requesting entity and given to the ILEC at the time of an interconnection request. The ILEC would then file the applicant/registration form along with the Day 1 notification with the Commission. It would be important for Commission recordkeeping purposes that the requesting carrier include on this form the type of carrier it is, any trade name it uses and whether there have been any previous interconnection agreements approved by this Commission at a time when it has operated under a different name. The nonregulated carrier should also notify the Commission whenever it has undergone a name change during the tenure of any approved interconnection agreement.

2.  Filed Comments

   ALLTEL argued that this Proposed Modification is unreasonable and discriminatory since it should be the obligation of the requesting carrier to provide the necessary information to the Commission on a timely basis and the solution is not to penalize or further regulate the ILEC when the requesting carrier fails to follow Commission procedures.

   Verizon PA agreed with the proposal to have an application/registration form filled out by the requesting entity since the requesting entity has ready access to the necessary information and will have an incentive to file the form on a timely basis.

   Level 3 supported the existing procedures that permit the filing, review and approval of an agreement pending the review and approval of a CLEC certificate application as being consistent with the act. Level 3 argued that, if a requesting carrier were required to have full certificate authority prior to approval of an interconnection agreement, a significant delay in market entry would be created that, until now, has not existed. As a result, Level 3 requested that the existing procedures not be modified, even where a CLEC certificate application is still under review.

3.  Tentative Resolution

   The comments by the parties recommending against requiring CLEC authority prior to the filing of an Interconnection Agreement request are persuasive. Further, since we are implementing the modification concerning the Day 1 issue and requiring the filing of an agreement within 30 days of execution, it is anticipated that this issue will, for the most part, be resolved. As a result, this proposed modification will be withdrawn. Nonetheless, we will continue to monitor this issue and we will revisit it if appropriate.

D.  Filing of ''True and Correct'' Copies of Interconnection Agreements

   Currently, each Order approving an Interconnection Agreement includes an Ordering Paragraph requiring that a ''true and correct'' copy of the Interconnection Agreement be filed as part of compliance obligations of the parties. Routinely, the ''true and correct'' copy is not filed with the Commission primarily because the agreement has not changed since it was originally submitted for approval with the Commission. As a result, Parties to the agreement have been filing a letter indicating that the original executed copy filed at the beginning of the review process is a ''true and correct'' copy and requesting that this copy meet its compliance responsibility. A problem arises in that all parties do not automatically file even a letter making this request. The parties are sent a Secretarial letter, sometimes several letters, reminding them of their responsibility under the Order, but frequently a response is not forthcoming.

1.  Initially Recommended Solution

   The initially recommended solution to this issue was to eliminate the ordering paragraph requiring that a ''true and correct'' copy be filed with the Commission, with the exception of those instances where: (1) the Commission and/or a party makes a change to the original agreement; (2) the agreements are arrived at through the arbitration process; or (3) a copy was not filed at the beginning of the review process.

   It was also recommended that ILECs be required to include a section on their respective websites that contains currently effective interconnection agreements that were either approved by this Commission or became effective by operation of law. This would: (1) more readily provide the public with access to interconnection agreements; (2) reduce the cost to the public in obtaining copies of agreements; (3) assist in reducing the number of inquiries as to which companies have approved agreements and how an official copy of an agreement can be obtained; and (4) assist in reducing the burden on the Secretary's Bureau in duplicating the voluminous copies.

2.  Filed Comments

   ALLTEL supported the proposal not to require the filing of a true and correct copy of the interconnection agreement when the original agreement has not been changed. However, ALLTEL objected to the proposal to require that ILECs make all agreements available on their websites as being unreasonably burdensome and discriminatory. ALLTEL proposed that the Commission make the agreements available on its website because the obligation to provide the public with access to these agreements is not an ILEC responsibility. ALLTEL maintained that an ILEC should have control over its own website and not have the Commission improperly mandate a host of requirements as to what a corporate website must contain.

   Sprint's position on this issue is consistent with that of ALLTEL, but Sprint suggested that ILECs be required to file an electronic true and correct copy, rather than a hard copy, for inclusion on the Commission website.

   Verizon PA agreed with the proposal not to require the filing of a true and correct copy under the circumstances cited. Verizon PA, however, opposed the imposition of a requirement that ILECs include the agreements on their websites. Verizon PA argued that this requirement would create a significant financial and technical cost to the ILEC as well as create potential liability should a copy of an agreement that was not a true and correct copy be posted inadvertently.

3.  Tentative Resolution

   None of the parties opposed the elimination of the requirement for the filing of a true and correct copy of an interconnection agreement under the circumstances outlined in our proposal. However, the parties do object to the proposal that would require that ILECs include copies of currently effective agreements on their websites. All suggest that the Commission make the agreements available on its website with Sprint recommending that a true and correct electronic copy be submitted in lieu of a paper true and correct copy for inclusion on the Commission's website.

   The proposed modification requiring the ILECs to include the agreements on their websites is similar to the requirement that utilities have their tariffs available on their websites with a link from the Commission website to the tariff page. As a result, the opposition to the proposal does not appear to be well-founded. Nonetheless, requiring the ILECs to submit an electronic true and correct copy for inclusion on the Commission website is an acceptable compromise. Therefore, the requirement for a paper true and correct copy will be tentatively eliminated under the circumstances previously described and ILECs will be required to submit an electronic true and correct copy of all interconnection agreements, including any amendments, for inclusion on the Commission website. It is noted, however, that this recommendation does not supplant the previous recommendation that the ILEC file for approval of a jointly signed interconnection agreement, nor does it relieve any party of its filing responsibilities.

IV.  Conclusion

   Based on the foregoing, consistent with the requirements under 66 Pa.C.S. §  703(3), relating to notification of Commission orders, we adopt the revised procedures adduced in the body of this Tentative Order; Therefore,

It Is Ordered That:

   1.  Our Order at Doc. No. M-00960799 entered June 3, 1996, is hereby modified relative to the filing of Interconnection Agreements.

   2.  The ILEC, upon receipt of a request for interconnection, shall file notice of the request with the Commission within 20 days of the date interconnection is requested consistent with this Order.

   3.  The ILEC is hereby responsible for filing, on behalf of itself and the requesting entity, a jointly signed interconnection agreement with the Commission within 30 days of the date that the agreement is signed.

   4.  The ILEC, within 30 days of entry of an Order approving an Interconnection Agreement, shall file an electronic true and correct copy of the agreement with the Commission for inclusion on the Commission website.

   5.  This Tentative Order shall be published for comment in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and copies served upon all parties having filed Comments and Reply Comments.

   6.  Comments to this Tentative Order shall be filed with the Commission on or before 30 days from the date of publication of this Tentative Order. Reply Comments, if any, will be due on or before 10 days from the date that Comments are due.

   7.  If no Comments are timely filed, this Tentative Order shall become final. If, however, timely comments are received, they will be addressed in a subsequent Order establishing final modifications to our Order at Doc. No. M-00960799 entered June 3, 1996, relative to the filing of Interconnection Agreements.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 03-1429. Filed for public inspection July 18, 2003, 9:00 a.m.]


1 Under the act, the Commission must act on any Interconnection Agreement filed as a result of negotiation and/or mediation within 90 days of an executed agreement being filed with the Commission. Section 252(e)(4).

2 The requesting interconnection carrier may or may not be subject to this Commission's jurisdiction. However, the ILEC providing interconnection to the requesting interconnection carrier is currently subject to this Commission's jurisdiction.

3 All Orders that approve the initial interconnection agreements between ILECs and CLECs include the following language to ensure that CLECs obtain certification before attempting to operate under the interconnection agreement. This language is not included in Orders where the requesting carrier is not subject to Commission jurisdiction:
   It is noted that, regardless of the types of services covered by this Interconnec-
   tion Agreement, it would be a violation of the Public Utility Code if the
   Applicant began offering services or assessing surcharges, to end users, for
   which it has not been authorized to provide and for which tariffs have not
   been authorized.

4COCOTs are customer-owned coin operated telephones. Prior to the deregulation of customer premises equipment (CPE) in the early 1980s, pay telephones were only provided by local or long distance telephone companies certificated to provide utility service. After CPE was deregulated and detariffed, private individuals and non-telephone companies were permitted to own and operate pay telephones (COCOTs) for use by the public. These private owners did not require Chapter 11 certification and were subject only to minimal rate, quality of service and equipment requirements. (The FCC subsequently preempted this Commission's ability to regulate availability through entry or exit requirements as well as the price of local coin service). This Commission did not require certification of COCOTs but required that they adhere to certain requirements which were codified in Chapter 63. As such, this Commission termed COCOTs as ''nonpublic utilities'' and required them to file a form with the Commission containing information relating to, inter alia, the owner's name and telephone number, the telephone number and location of the COCOT, and who to contact to receive refunds or resolve problems associated with the COCOT.

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