Miscellaneous

Article excerpt

(42610)

NOTICE OF INQUIRY

Cause No. PUD 940 000461

Introduction

Before the Corporation Commission of the State of Oklahoma.

In Re: Inquiry Of The Oklahoma Corporation Commission Concerning The Provision and Regulation Of Telecommunications Services.

In the ten years since divestiture, the telecommunications industry has experienced tumultuous change. Many new competitors have emerged that offer customers a variety of alternatives for their telecommunications service needs. This competitive environment has prompted regulators to re-examine many of the tenets upon which regulatory policy are based. Historically, telecommunications services that are local in nature are provided solely by certificated local exchange carriers. However, in light of recent announcements made at the Commission's Telecommunications Symposium, in press releases and recent activities at the Commission involving two local exchange carriers, we feel compelled to examine existing rules and regulations as additional segments of the telecommunications industry evolve into competitive markets. Further, to avoid a piecemeal approach to policymaking, the Commission proposes this Notice of Inquiry to allow all interested persons the opportunity to provide comments and recommendations to the Commission on the appropriate regulatory policies for a competitive environment.

Even as this Commission considers changes to longstanding regulatory policies, the United States Senate and House of Representatives are considering legislation which would cause sweeping changes to the Communications Act of 1934. Those proposed changes would remove many, if not all, of the restrictions placed on monopoly telephone companies upon divestiture. In addition, the proposed changes could affect existing policies at this Commission and restrict future policymaking by this agency. Therefore, it is incumbent upon this Commission to begin the process of addressing existing policies such as universal service, carrier of last resort, high cost support, cross-subsidization, certificated territories and others which may be affected by competition for telecommunications services within the telephone exchange area.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already confronted the question of competition for many telecommunications services. For instance, the FCC has adopted policies which promote competition for installation and maintenance of inside wiring, detariffed billing and collection services, and adopted rules of interconnection, so that alternative providers of special access services and switched access services could utilize exiting networks of incumbent local exchange carriers. In addition, some state regulatory commissions have authorized competition into the local exchange market. The primary consideration of federal and state regulators alike has been to formulate rules and regulations that will encourage competition without placing undue burdens on existing customers. Therefore, as we examine changes to existing policies, this Commission has the benefit of drawing upon experiences in other jurisdictions as they considered and implemented regulatory policy.

Legislation has also been a source of competitive policies in many jurisdictions. Likewise, statutory restrictions can impede the entry of competition and restrict the development of pro-competitive policies. In this regard, statutory language may need to be examined in order to accommodate competition and permit the establishment of new regulatory policies in this new environment. As stated earlier, Congress is faced with this dilemma today. Therefore, this Notice of Inquiry is intended to focus not only on recommended changes to existing State laws which affect the Commission's ability to change its regulatory policies.

ISSUES PROPOSED FOR COMMENT

There are many regulatory policies which may be impacted by the introduction of competition into the local exchange market. …