Withdrawal of Rulemaking Order
[38 Pa.B. 3246]
[Saturday, June 14, 2008]
Public Meeting held
May 22, 2008
Commissioners Present: Wendell F. Holland, Chairperson; James H. Cawley, Vice Chairperson; Tyrone J. Christy; Kim Pizzingrilli
Rulemaking Re: Proposed Revision to Commission Regulations Governing Extended Area Service (EAS) at
52 Pa. Code §§ 63.71--63.77
Docket No. L-00050173
Report and Recommendation of the Extended
Area Service Task Force
Docket No. M-00031703
Final Rulemaking Order
By the Commission:
Before the Commission for disposition are the proposed Final Rules for Extended Area Service (EAS)1 modifying the current regulations set forth in the Public Utility Code at 52 Pa. Code §§ 63.71--63.77. The rulemaking was initiated by the Commission in November 2005 with the intention of updating our current regulations so as to reflect changes in the regulatory environment for providing telecommunications services in Pennsylvania. The Commission received comments from the Office of Consumer Advocate, the Pennsylvania Telephone Association, and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
Staff has dedicated significant time and effort in the preparation of proposed and final regulations for our review and they are commended for their efforts. However, pursuant to the Regulatory Review Act, regulations must be submitted in final-form within 2 years of the close of the public comment period. In light of the June 6, 2008, regulatory deadline for submission of these regulations to legislative standing committees and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, the Commission does not believe that there is sufficient time remaining to give the proposed final rulemaking proper consideration. Consequently, the Commission concludes that this rulemaking proceeding be closed.
Since receiving public comments over 2 years ago, there have been considerable changes in the structure of the telecommunications industry with the implementation of bundled service packages; the emergence of competition, cable telephony, wireless competition and innovative technologies such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). All of these changes in the market have limited the number of EAS cases coming before us. Although the number of EAS cases has diminished, it does not minimize the relevancy of EAS in areas where true competition is not yet a reality. The Commission should take these changes into consideration and ensure that any modification to our existing regulations accurately reflect the current marketplace.
The closing of this rulemaking does not negate a local exchange carrier's duty to comply with our existing regulations and the Commission will continue to apply these regulations to any EAS cases coming before us. In light of the continued effectiveness of the current regulations, the suspension of the biennial traffic studies requirement of 52 Pa. Code § 63.72 shall remain in effect.2
The closing of the rulemaking does not preclude the Commission from further exploring EAS issues and instituting a new rulemaking, as deemed necessary, at a future date. The Commission will convene a working group of stakeholders to solicit comments on the future direction of EAS given the changes in the market since this rulemaking was initiated over 2 years ago. Therefore,
It Is Ordered That:
1. The instant rulemaking be closed.
2. A copy of the entered Opinion and Order be served upon the Office of Consumer Advocate, the Office of Small Business Advocate, and the Pennsylvania Telephone Association and published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
3. The Commission provide notice to the Office of Attorney General, the Governor's Budget Office, the Legislative Standing Committees, and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission that this rulemaking has been closed.
4. The Law Bureau, in conjunction with the Bureau of Fixed Utility Services, convene a stakeholders' working group and develop for Commission consideration within 120 days an updated recommendation regarding possible amendment of our current EAS regulations.
JAMES J. MCNULTY,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 08-1100. Filed for public inspection June 13, 2008, 9:00 a.m.]
1 EAS is a term of art referring to a procedure in which the Commission expands a basic local calling area. EAS converts an in-state (intrastate) toll route, in which consumers typically pay for a call on a minute of use (MOU) basis, into a local calling area route. When the consumers get EAS, they typically pay a flat rate for unlimited local calling or, in the case of an Optional Calling Plan (OCP), pay a discounted toll rate.
2 This requirement was suspended by Commission Order entered June 30, 1999 at Docket No. I-000940035.
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