Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 515-12-1-.29 - Extended Area Service

Current through Rules and Regulations filed through April 4, 2022

(1) PURPOSE. The Commission declares that it is in the public interest to establish uniform guidelines, standards and procedures for filing, acceptance and processing of petitions or requests for Extended Area Service (EAS) which may be pending on, or applied for or made subsequent to the effective date of this rule.
(2) DEFINITIONS. For purposes of construction and interpretation of this Rule, the following are defined as indicated:
(a) CCS (Hundred Calling Seconds): A measure of telephone traffic load obtained by multiplying the number of calls in an hour by the average call duration in seconds and dividing that product by one hundred;
(b) EAS (Extended Area Service): A switching and trunking arrangement which provides for non-optional, unlimited two way, flat rate calling service between two or more exchanges, provided at a local exchange rate to be set by the Georgia Public service commission (GPSC; hereinafter "GPSC" or "The Commission");
(c) Exchange Regrouping: A method of automatically moving an exchange into another rate group (based on the number of access lines available for local calling) if the number of access lines is increased so that the exchange no longer fits in the original rate group;
(d) Holding Time: The total duration, in time, of one completed call;
(e) Incremental Rate: That rate, if any, which may be added to each subscriber of an exchange to offset any increased revenue requirement which may be found by the Commission to be due to EAS provision; any such rate increase shall be apportioned between classes of customers in such a manner as the Commission may in the exercise of its sound discretion, direct and apportioned among the various exchanges included in the newly expanded toll free area in such a manner as the Commission may, in the exercise of its sound discretion, direct;
(f) Access Line: A communications facility extending from a customer's premises to a serving central office comprising a subscriber line and, if necessary, a trunk facility, e.g., a WATS access line, TWX access line;
(g) Stimulation Factor: A measure of the increase in telephone messages between two exchanges when they are connected by EAS instead of message toll service ("long distance").
(3) GUIDELINES FOR COMMISSION APPROVAL. The following guidelines shall be applied by the Commission, in considering and reaching a decision in connection with any proposal for EAS:
(a) Whether, in the exercise of its sound discretion, the Commission determined that the community of interest factor between the affected exchanges is sufficient to warrant the application of EAS to the affected exchanges, i.e., that it is in the best interest of the affected exchanges that EAS be granted;
(b) Whether the incremental rates to be charged for the EAS arrangement, as determined by the Commission, will, in the EAS area as a whole, generate revenue within the affected exchanges (i.e., all exchanges in the newly expanded toll free area) sufficient to meet any increased revenue requirements found by the Commission to result from the provision of EAS, taking into account the overall financial situation of the affected telephone companies;
(c) Whether the proposed EAS is found by the Commission, in the exercise of its sound discretion, to be of sound political, and/or social and/or economic or other value to the communities affected and that benefits to be realized justify and/or outweigh any additional costs incurred.
(4) FILING REQUIREMENTS. The Commission may, on its own motion, initiate an inquiry into an EAS proposal, may set forth its own proposal and may otherwise initiate the procedures for EAS described herein. In addition, the Commission may initiate such an inquiry and trigger such procedures in response to any of the following:
(a) A petition signed by at least ten percent (10%) of the subscribers in the telephone exchange from which the petition originates. Any such petition filed with the Commission shall set forth the name and telephone number of each petition signer; or
(b) A petition, request or resolution adopted and filed with the Commission by any elected representative or governing body of a political subdivision which is served, in whole or in part, by any exchange(s) requested in any such petition request or resolution, to be considered for EAS; or
(c) A petition file by one or more telephone companies who have jurisdiction over at least one exchange sought to be included in EAS; or
(d) A petition, request or resolution filed by any regional, county, city or other Chamber of Commerce or Development Authority representing at least one of the exchanges sought to be afforded EAS;
(e) All petitions for EAS, regardless of how initiated, shall state the name of the petitioner's exchange(s) and the name(s) of the exchange(s) to which EAS is sought.
(5) TRAFFIC STUDY.
(a) Upon receipt of a proper filing under the provisions given in (4) above, or on its own motion, the Commission shall cause a traffic study to be conducted. Results of this traffic study shall be reported to the Commission in such time frame as the Commission may direct, but in no event less than 30 nor more than 90 days from the date of the Commission's transmittal of an Order to the affected telephone companies directing that the study be undertaken. The data filed shall be developed from and based upon a minimum thirty (30) day study of representative calling patterns, shall be in such form, detail and content as the Commission may reasonably require and shall include, as a minimum, the following information, unless specifically waived by the Commission:
1. The number of messages and calculated calling rates, expressed in messages per access line per month, over each interexchange route and in each direction, segregated between business and residential users and combined for both; and
2. A detailed analysis of the distribution of calling usage among subscribers, over each route and in each direction, segregated between business and residential users and combined, showing, for each category, the number of customers making 0 calls, 1 call, etc., through 15 calls and 16 or more calls per month;
3. Data showing, by classes of service, the number of access lines in service for each of the exchanges being studied;
4. The interexchange toll rates, distance between rate centers, the number and duration of calls and the average revenue per message (ARPM) for the calls studied;
5. The number of foreign Exchange (FX) lines in service and the average calling volumes carried on these lines expressed (a) as calculated messages per month and (b) in CCS units.
(b) As a guideline for evaluating community of interest, the Commission may consider that such a community of interest exists when the combined two way calling rate over each interexchange route under consideration equals or exceeds, on the average, four (4) messages per access line per month or at least fifty percent (50%) of the subscribers in the exchanges affected make at least three (3) calls per month, except that:
1. On any given route between two exchanges, when the exchange of the petitioning subscribers has less than one half the number of access lines as the larger exchange, studies of one-way traffic originating in the smaller exchange may be used, in which case the community of interest guidelines will be met if a calling rate of four (4) or more messages on the average per access lines per month from the smaller exchange to the larger exchange or exchanges to which it seeks inclusion or at least fifty percent (50%) of the exchange subscribers in the smaller exchange make three or more calls per month to the larger exchange or exchanges to which it seeks inclusion.
(c) In the event that the interexchange traffic patterns over the given route do not meet, in the sound discretion of the Commission, community of interest qualifications, the Commission may, in the exercise of its sound discretion, determine that no further investigation would be warranted and may deny the petition.
(6) COST STUDY.
(a) Concurrently with, or following the procedures contained in (4) and (5) above, as the Commission may Order or Direct, the company or companies involved may be ordered by the Commission to initiate studies necessary to determine the changes in costs which may reasonably be expected to result from the establishment of the requested EAS. Such studies shall, however, be ordered and the results of such studies shall be considered by the Commission prior to granting EAS. These studies will consider and develop, for each route, relevant revenues and costs over a one year period immediately following the potential date forinitiation of the service and for a one year period five years subsequent to the potential initiation of the service, including the following information:
1. Net increases in capital costs resulting from required additions to network capacity less reductions in required quantities of facilities and equipment utilized for toll services between the exchanges. The added investment will be based upon the additional switching and trunking needs necessary to accommodate the incremental usage at prescribed levels of service, as may be determined from estimates of call stimulation factors and holding time effects due to Extended Area Service. Annual charge factors will be applied to the added investment to obtain the additional annual costs attributable to this source;
2. Analysis of increases and decreases in expenses and the net effect on operating expenses;
3. A separate schedule showing local revenue increases resulting from exchange regrouping, as applicable;
4. Analysis by exchange of changes in:
(i) Intrastate Intralata toll revenues;
(ii) Intrastate Intralata access charges;
(iii) Intrastate Intralata access revenues.
(b) On or before a date specified by the Commission in its Directive or Order, which shall be no less than 30 nor more than 90 days from the date of transmittal of the Commission's Directive or Order to complete a cost study, the telephone company or companies shall file with the Commission a summary of the results of this study, together with supporting schedules and such detail as will be sufficient to permit the identification of study components and verification of study results. Coincident with the filing of cost study results, respondent(s) shall submit recommendations for proposed incremental rate increases, by classes of service, necessary to support the added service.
(7) DIVISION OF COSTS
(a) Having established the annual average incremental revenue requirement created by the new EAS, the Commission will determine the rate increment to be charged to subscribers in the affected exchange(s), i.e., those exchanges constituting a new or enlarged toll free area including both those which may have been part of a preexisting toll free area and those that may have been added or moved from one toll free area to another. The Commission may, in the exercise of its sound discretion and based upon the evidence before it, order costs to be shared by exchanges not included in the enlarged toll free area.
(b) New Extended Area service will be priced using those rate increments designed to recover the added revenue requirement for each interexchange route and the total increment chargeable to subscribers will be the sum of the increments from all new Extended Area Service routes established for that exchange after the effective date of this rule.
(c) the annual average incremental revenue requirement for each new EAS route shall be apportioned among the various exchanges involved (i.e., both those exchanges which might be added to an existing toll free area as well as those exchanges which might previously have been included in an existing toll free area) as the Commission in the exercise of its sound discretion may determine to be most equitable and fair to all subscribers. The following are guidelines only and are not intended to prescribe or mandate criteria to be applied by the Commission in reaching its determination, but each shall be considered by the Commission and accorded such weight as the Commission may, in light of all the evidence before it and in the exercise of its sound discretion determine to be appropriate:
1. If the exchanges are approximately the same size and two way community of interest is approximately the same, then division of costs should be approximately equal for each subscriber in each exchange.
2. If the petitioning exchange has less than half the number of access lines as the larger exchange and two way community of interest is approximately the same or the one way community of interest of one exchange is less than 10 times that of the other exchange, then the Commission may provide that each exchange's subscribers would bear costs attributable to that exchange.
3. If the community of interest in one direction is ten times (or more than ten times) that of the other direction, the Commission may provide that total costs be divided among the subscribers of the exchange with the higher community of interest.
4. In the event that this division of costs indicates that the increment would be more than the Commission determines to be just and reasonable, the Commission may, in the exercise of its sound discretion, allocate costs in some other fashion or may determine that no further investigation would be warranted and could, in the exercise of its sound discretion, deny the petition.
5. The Commission, in the exercise of its sound discretion, may prescribe such rate mechanism, including but not limited to apportionment among classes of rate payers, as the Commission may determine to be fair, equitable and necessary to recover, from appropriate rate categories, such costs of EAS as the Commission may find to be legitimate.
6. In determining whether any rate increase is warranted, the Commission will first make a determination as to what the true costs of EAS are, giving due consideration to that information required by Section (6) above. Once that determination has been made, and prior to allocation to classes, the Commission shall conduct such review as, in the exercise of its sound discretion, may be prudent and necessary to determine whether any rate increase is justified and if so the amount of any such increase, as well as how any such increase should be allocated among classes. Such review may, but is not required to, include consideration of the overall earnings and other financial circumstances of the company or companies involved.
(8) JOINT INFORMAL MEETING.
(a) An informal meeting between the petition spokesman, telephone company or companies and Commission staff may be held at any time to present and discuss the traffic studies, cost studies and division of costs, so long as all parties are advised of any such meeting and afforded a full and fair opportunity to attend and participate.
(9) PUBLIC HEARING.
(a) At any time, on the Commission's own motion, upon request by either petitioners or telephone companies affected, or at the request of any citizen, Public Hearings maybe held to provide for public comment, for the taking of evidence, for the examination and verification ofdata required by the Commission pursuant to this Rule, the introduction of such additional testimony, evidence and information as may be germane to the issues and to afford an opportunity for all parties of interest to be fully heard or for all of these purposes or others as may be determined by the Commission. Any such hearings may include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
1. Presentation of traffic study results;
2. Presentation of cost study results;
3. Presentation of division of costs;
4. Public testimony;
5. Rebuttal testimony on cost study, division of costs or any other matters presented;
6. Any other testimony or other documentary or other evidence deemed by the Commission to be relevant and germane.
(b) At least one hearing including, but not limited to, elements (a)1. through 6. above shall be held by the Commission prior to granting EAS and all relevant and material evidence introduced at any such hearing shall be considered by the Commission prior to granting EAS.
(c) in the event the Commission, in the exercise of its sound discretion, shall determine that the hearing record indicates the petition not to be in the public interest, the Commission may determine that no further investigation is warranted and may deny the petition.
(d) The Commission may, in response to petitions from petitioners, from telephone companies, from others or on its own motion, hold such other Public Hearings at such times and in such places as it may determine to be appropriate, requiring or allowing such testimony or the introduction of such evidence as may be consistent with a sound determination of the public's wishes and concerns and with gathering evidence to enable the Commission to reach a sound decision.
(10) SUBSCRIBER SURVEY.
(a) In all cases where a proposal for Extended Area Service has been initiated, the Commission may, at any time after initiation of any such proposal, order a survey by mail to be made under its supervision of all subscribers so affected.
(b) The customer survey explanatory letter shall include all pertinent information that would enable the customer to exercise a rational choice of acceptance or rejection of the proposal and shall contain at least the following items, along with such other items as the Commission may order or direct:
1. A brief explanation of the purpose of the survey;
2. A tabulation showing, by classes of service, the increases in rates to which subscribers would or might be subject. This letter shall state separately for each exchange required to be surveyed the amount of local service rate increase applicable to that exchange both in the event all exchanges under consideration vote for and are granted EAS or only the petitioning exchange;
3. A listing of the telephone exchanges and three-digit telephone number prefixes which would become accessible if the Extended Area Service were approved, as well as the number of access lines currently available to subscribers and the number of access lines which would be available if EAS were approved, along with current comparable telephone rates in the exchange (so that a comparison could be made with any rate resulting from an increase);
4. A statement indicating that only those voting by a signed return postcard will be counted;
5. The date by which the postcard ballots must be postmarked to be considered. This return date will provide, as a minimum, a period of thirty days from the date on which the survey letter is mailed, unless such time period is shortened by the Commission; provided, however, that, in no event shall the return date be less than ten days from the date of mailing to the customer.
(c) The customer survey letter shall be a separate mailing, shall contain no additional material or information not contemplated by this rule or directed and approved by the Commission and shall include a pre-addressed, return postage paid card ballot which shall provide at least the following information:
1. A brief statement of the service proposal being voted on as more fully described in the customer survey letter;
2. Spaces for the customer to indicate his or her preference for or against the proposal;
3. Lines for signature, telephone number and date;
4. A space for customer comments, if desired;
5. The date by which the ballot must be postmarked in order to be considered in the determination of voting results.
(d) Both the subscriber survey letter and the return postcard ballot as well as the envelope (and any graphic or printed material contained thereon) shall have the prior approval of the Commission before mailing and the postcard ballot shall be returnable to the commission for tabulation of results.
(e) The Commission shall approve an independent company or organization to tabulate said ballots and report the results to the Commission. All costs incurred in connection with preparation of all materials, costs of mailing and costs of collection and tabulation shall be borne by the telephone company or companies involved and such costs shall be only those costs found by the Commission to have been reasonable and prudent and necessary.
(f) The requested EAS may be denied by the Commission upon a finding that:
1. A simple majority of affirmative votes of those voting was not realized, in the aggregate, from the total votes cast in all exchanges in the subscriber survey; or
2. A simple majority of affirmative votes of those casting ballots was not realized from a given petitioning exchange (denial in this instance would be warranted only as to that exchange).
(11) ALTERNATIVES TO EXTENDED AREA SERVICE.
(a) Whenever interexchange traffic patterns are such that subscriber needs may be adequately served by alternative service offerings, or petitions may not fully meet the requirements of this rule but higher than average interexchange message traffic exists, the Commission will give consideration to other alternatives including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:
(a) Optional EAS/Extended Community Calling. Features include:
1. Optional;
2. One way to selected exchanges;
3. Flat rate for a block of time measured rate for overtime.
(b) Circle Calling Plan. Features include:
1. Optional;
2. One Way to selected circles, i.e. bands;
3. Flat rate per band and discounted toll rate for usage.
(c) Measured Rate Service. Features include:
1. Primarily optional;
2. Charges based upon frequency, length, distance and time of day;
3. Subscriber control of bill by control of usage.
(12) CONSIDERATION OF DATA AND EVIDENCE BY COMMISSION.
(a) The Commission in reaching its decision may consider any or all of the data described and collected herein as well as any other data which the Commission may order or direct to be collected, produced or analyzed and any other evidence, testimony or data which the Commission may choose to consider based upon its implicit finding of relevance so long as such data is available to all parties and that all parties have a full and fair opportunity in an open hearing to cross examine any such testimony, to present evidence to rebut any other evidence presented or considered, or otherwise have been afforded all due process rights to which they may be entitled.

Notes

Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 515-12-1-.29
Ga. L. 1878-79, p. 125; 1907, pp. 72, 75; 1922, pp. 143, 144; 1964, p. 338; 1972, pp. 138, 439, 1973, pp. 677-681; 1975, p. 406
Original Rule entitled "Extended Area Service" was filed on November 14, 1980; effective 12/4/1980. Repealed: New Rule, same title, adopted. F. Aug. 14, 1992, eff. 9/3/1992.

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