New California PUC Enforcement Policies May Prove Costly to Non-Compliant Service Providers

The California Public Utilities Commission’s new resolution authorizes the Communication Division Staff to implement a citation program to enforce compliance by telecommunications carriers. This not only makes it easier to take enforcement action but, as a result of easier enforcement, may also cost carriers more money than under the previous system.

The resolution proposes that the citation process cover a variety of penalties, including:

  • Failure to Obtain Authority to Operate in California, with a fine of $1,000 per month for each month the carrier has been operating without authority;
  • Failure to Submit Specified Filings, Notices, Reports and Other Items as Directed in Commission Resolutions, with a $1,000 per event with the possibility of increase in fines
  • Failure to report and remit surcharge payments for at least six months as directed in Commission Resolutions, Decisions, Orders, and the Public Utilities Code, with fines of at least $1,000 per event and up to a maximum $3,000;
  • Failure to report and remit user fee payments for at least 30 days, with fines of 25% of user fees due on delinquent payments;
  • Late-filed contracts penalties, with fines between ¼% and 10% of the total contract revenues

Citation notices will be sent in writing to telecommunications carriers, and opportunity will be given to correct the violation, pay the penalty, and notify Commission Staff of any errors in its analysis. Carriers will additionally be permitted to contest violations within 30-days. While this streamlines the citation processes, it may put carriers at greater risk of enforcement for violations. It also may raise carriers cost of doing business in California, both in terms of fines stemming from violations and the costs associated with responding to and defending citations issued by the Communications Division.

If you would like additional information, please contact Seth Williams at slw@CommLawGroup.com, or 703-714-1326.

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