The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved rates and conditions for interconnection between BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., a local exchange carrier (LEC), and two new competitive providers of local exchange services, Metropolitan Fiber Systems of Florida, Inc. (MFS) and MCI Metro Access Transmission Services, Inc. (MCI). By a separate order, the PSC has adopted provisions for resale of BellSouth services by competing local service providers, including the unbundling of local service components.
To accommodate requirements imposed by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has issued a set of procedural requirements governing requests for interconnection services. According to the NCUC, the federal timeline for compulsory arbitration of differences arising during the course of interconnection negotiations could leave as little as 85 days to render a decision in each case.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) has rejected a request from Bell Atlantic-Virginia, Inc., a telecommunications local exchange carrier (LEC), to reclassify intraLATA message toll service (MTS) as competitive under its new alternative regulation plan.
Finding the state's long-distance telecommunications market sufficiently competitive, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has relaxed price controls for AT&T Communications of New York, Inc., an interexchange carrier (IXC) currently regulated as a dominant provider of long-distance services. Under the settlement agreement, AT&T will freeze price floors and ceilings for basic long-distance service (message toll service, or "MTS") for five years and give customers a one-time rate reduction to reflect lower access charges AT&T must pay to local exchange carriers in the state.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has approved price-cap regulation plans for four major telecommunications local exchange carriers (LECs) in the state: BellSouth Telecommunications Inc. (BellSouth), Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Co. (Carolina), Central Telephone Co. (Central), and GTE South, Inc. (GTE). The NCUC rejected allegations by AT&T Communications of the Southern States, Inc., an interexchange carrier (IXC), that a separate "general rate case" was needed to gauge how the shift to price regulation affected LEC earnings.
A struggle is underway for ownership of the utility business. Not a fight between companies, but a struggle within each company for the future of the utility.
The battle pits two groups against each other. One side consists of the operational professionals, such as the engineers who build and maintain the power grid. The other side includes an emerging group of marketing and communications professionals.
In the past, the engineers "owned" the company.
Three separate utilities have formed subsidiaries:
s The Columbia Gas System, Inc.'s new unit, Columbia Service Partners, Inc. will market new, nongas needs to homeowners and businesses, including warranty, fuel management, and gas-line repair services.
s Brooklyn Union's new gas marketing affiliate, KeySpan Energy Services, Inc., will buy and sell gas and provide transportation and related services, first to commercial and industrial customers, then to aggregated commercial and residential customers.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has reversed a series of earlier rulings and has now allowed U S WEST Communications, Inc. to sell certain rural telephone exchanges to small independent local telephone carriers. Putting aside prior concerns that excessive sales prices would impose higher rates, the PUC found that projections of the ratio of purchase price to net book value had been overstated. It said the ratio had improved with recent increases in plant investment, as well as from a plan by U S WEST to contribute funds to replace switches in the sale exchanges.
Deregulation, competition, and marketplace practices have been spreading slowly across the communications business for decades. In their wake, they have left lower prices, faster innovation, and more services, jobs, profits, and productivity.
Among the proposals for still further change, one of the most shocking is the idea that radio rights should be bought and sold on the open market, just like land or any other commodity.
Once again, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has chosen a revenue-sharing program to allocate earnings by local-exchange carrier (LEC) U S WEST Communications, Inc. to network modernization, rural zone rate reductions, and other system improvements, rather than to broad-based rate refunds.
U S WEST must share a portion of earnings with local-exchange callers under an alternate regulation plan it elected in 1989. During the plan's first two years, the PUC had directed available sharing funds returned to local subscribers as one-time credits.