California PUC Adopts New Major Service Interruption Reporting Requirements

The California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) recently adopted new reporting obligations for major service disruptions and outages. Pursuant to CPUC Decision 16-08-021, all certificated and registered telecommunications providers are responsible for providing the CPUC with any reports submitted to the FCC through its Network Outage Reporting System (“NORS”). Previously, this requirement applied to LECs, NDIECs, and wireless providers, and now is extended through this ruling to VoIP providers.

The CPUC reasoned that because interconnected VoIP service providers offer significant and continuously growing telephone service in California, their customers should receive the same reliable service guarantees and the ability to reach emergency services as customers of more traditional telephone services. The CPUC also reasoned that the FCC has required interconnected VoIP services to provide these forms since its 2012, and, therefore, it would not be unduly burdensome for VoIP providers to also send these reports to the CPUC.

The CPUC adopted the FCC’s Part 4 (47 C.F.R. § 4) outage reporting rules and its associated NORS requirements, along with the annual Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (“ETC”) report. A NORS report must be submitted to the CPUC under two circumstances:  (1) when the communication disruption or outage meets the FCC’s reporting threshold or (2) when the communication disruption or outage involves communications in California (regardless of whether it independently meets the FCC’s threshold). Once service has been restored, the service provider is required to submit a final NORS report indicating that the problem has been remedied.

Furthermore, any service provider classified as an ETC must file the designated annual recertification letter. These annual outage reports should only be submitted for an outage lasting at least thirty minutes and potentially affecting 10 percent of customers in a designated area and should include a detailed description of the incident(s). Altogether, the NORS disruption and outage reports, the final outage reports summarizing the remedied situation, and the ETC annual outage reports will be treated as confidential.

All facilities-based telephone corporations, including CLECs and NDIECs, may be subject to fines for failure to comply with the new outage reporting requirements. These service providers will begin incurring fines after failing to meet the reporting requirements for three consecutive months. Interconnected VoIP providers are not subject to fines.

If you have any questions about the CPUC’s new report submission requirements and the CPUC’s G.O. 133-5 ruling in general, please contact Michael Donahue at mpd@commlawgroup.com or Allison Rule at adr@commlawgroup.com.

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING DISCLAIMER: This information may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions under the applicable law and ethical rules. The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers