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(b) Purchase, lease, construct, maintain, or operate any facility for the purpose of providing cable television service, telecommunications service, or advanced service to one or more subscribers.
(2) The ballot at an election conducted pursuant to this section shall pose the question as a single subject and shall include a description of the nature of the proposed service, the role that the local government will have in provision of the service, and the intended subscribers of such service. The ballot proposition shall not take effect until submitted to the electors and approved by the majority of those voting on the ballot.
- Order Closing docket Dec 17, 2003
- We note that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has asserted jurisdiction over the internet and related services, and has opened a docket to address issues raised by VoIP. (Staff will continue to monitor the FCC proceedings and comments made by parties to the FCC?s docket.) Because of the legal uncertainty of whether a state may regulate VoIP services, as well as the host of policy issues involved with VoIP, we believe the most prudent course is to take no action with respect to VoIP pending FCC action.
Because the purposes of this proceeding have been accomplished, we now enter our order closing this docket.
- TR State Newswire, PUC ends VoIP Investigation, Sopkin voices views on VoIP, Jan 6, 2004 ("nascent VoIP industry should not be subject to death-by-regulation, which could well occur by having 51 state commissions imposing idiosyncratic, inconsistent, and costly obligations.")
Docket 03-220T Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) May 22, 2003 Closed. Decision Number C03-0559 Order Compelling Production of Documents (Word). Docket Index. 1. At our April 16, 2003, 2003 Weekly Meeting, we began an investigation into Voice Over Internet Protocol ("VOIP") services. VOIP is a means of using packet switching techniques, the same basic techniques used by internet backbone carriers and providers, to offer voice services traditionally provided by "switched-voice" technology, either analog or digital. The technology and its regulatory treatment by this Commission is an important matter since the application of that technology to certain services has raised a number of issues which may impact delivery of regulated telecommunications services in Colorado.
2. Commission Staff (Staff), on behalf and at the direction of the Commission, has been conducting an investigation into this matter, and as part of that investigation, served a number of audit requests upon various entities regulated by the Commission. Staff has now informed us that certain entities have expressed concern in providing certain documents in response to those audit questions, because some of these documents may be confidential (e.g., contracts containing a confidentiality provision between the contracting parties). Because of those concerns, Staff has requested that we issue an order requiring production of those documents under our authority to compel regulated entities to provide information to the Commission. Such an order will clarify that entities responding to Staff's audit request are doing so pursuant to Commission legal authority to compel the production of information and documents by regulated entities. Now being duly advised in the premises, we issue this order directing the entities listed on Attachment 1 to provide to the Commission and its Staff the documents discussed here.
April 16, 2003 Initiated investigation of VoIP In The Matter Of The Petition Of The City Of Cortez, Colorado, A Colorado Municipal Corporation And A Home Rule City, For A Declaratory Order That Certain Data Communications Services Provided By The City Do Not Need Certificates Provided By The Commission, Order Granting Petition For Declaratory Order May 21, 2003 4. We conclude that the data services offered by the City over the CCN are not services subject to the Commission's jurisdiction under state statutes. The services offered by the City over the CCN are point-to-point, private line, data services. Part 4 of Article 15, Title 40, Colorado Revised Statutes, lists certain services exempt from regulation by the Commission. One of the services exempt from Commission regulation, under § 40-15-401(1)(n), C.R.S., is retail digital private line service. We conclude that the services offered by the City over the CCN are digital private line offerings. As such, these services are not regulated by the Commission. In addition, the City's representation that it will not permit providers that are uncertified (by the Commission) to use the CCN to offer VOIP services persuades us that its ownership and operation of the CCN is not subject to our jurisdiction. Therefore, the Petition for Declaratory Order is granted. In The Matter Of Petition By ICG Telecom Group, Inc., For Arbitration Of An Interconnection Agreement With U S West Communications, Inc., Pursuant To § 252(B) Of The Telecommunications Act Of 1996 Decision Denying Applications For Rehearing, Reargument, Or Reconsideration September 7, 20001. Qwest seeks reconsideration of the Commission's decision rejecting its proposal to expand switched access to apply to phone-to-phone voice over internet protocol ("VoIP") traffic. Qwest offers four reasons for reversing our Initial Commission Decision. Qwest argues: first, the initial decision is too broad in scope; second, the initial decision cannot be reconciled with Commission Decision No. C00-760 ("VNI decision"); third, the Commission's attempt to distinguish the VNI decision is unpersuasive; and fourth, the FCC has recognized that phone-to-phone internet protocol telephony bears all the hallmarks of telecommunications services to which switched access charges apply.
2. As for the supposed overbreadth (application for RRR pages 2-4), of the initial decision, Qwest asserts that the initial decision indicates that all VoIP traffic should be exempt from switched access charges. We disagree. Decision No. C00-858 applies to the issue which is before the Commission: whether or not switched access should apply to phone-to-phone VoIP traffic.
3. Qwest then argues (application for RRR pages 4 12) that the initial decision cannot be reconciled with the Commission's VNI decision and that the Commission's attempt to distinguish the VNI decision is unpersuasive. Qwest correctly points out that VNI was providing interexchange service through various methods including the use of packet switching technology (also known as Internet Protocol ("IP")). We determined in the VNI decision that the service provided by VNI resulted in improper avoidance of access charges. VNI specifically intended to avoid access charges.
4. In this case, ICG is not attempting to avoid access charges. ICG and Qwest disagree on the appropriate level of compensation for the use of Qwest's network by ICG's VoIP traffic. Qwest argues that switched access charges should apply to VoIP calls and that ICG's VoIP traffic uses Qwest network similarly to calls using Feature Group A. ICG points out in testimony that IP traffic does not use the conventional feature group access arrangements used by interexchange carriers and that the established switched access charges listed in Qwest's tariff do not include an appropriate charge for VoIP traffic . This record does not offer any other compensation options for our consideration. Given the binary choice of whether or not current switched access charges should apply to phone-to-phone VoIP calls, we determined that these charges should not apply.
5. We urge the parties to reach a negotiated agreement on the appropriate compensation level for uses of the network (such as VoIP traffic).
6. Qwest argues (application for RRR pages 12-16) that the FCC has recognized that phone-to-phone internet protocol telephony bears all the hallmarks of telecommunications services to which switched access charges apply. We note that the FCC has not yet made a determination on whether switched access charges should apply to phone-to-phone voice over IP traffic. In our initial decision, we did not classify VoIP calls as either a telecommunications service or an information service. There is no need for us to classify VoIP to determine if switched access charges should apply.
7. We deny Qwest's request for reconsideration. The interconnection agreement shall not include the additional language proposed by Qwest on this matter.
IN THE MATTER OF PETITION BY ICG TELECOM GROUP, INC., FOR ARBITRATION OF AN INTERCONNECTION AGREEMENT WITH U S WEST COMMUNICATIONS, INC., PURSUANT TO § 252(B) OF THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1996. Initial Commission Decision August 1, 2000 1. Both ICG and Qwest agree on proposed language for interconnection agreement sections (A)2.2, (A)2.44, and (C)3.1. Qwest proposed additional language expanding switched access to apply to phone voice interexchange traffic that is transmitted over a carrier's packet switched network using protocols such as transmission control protocol and internet protocol ("TCP/IP").
2. ICG asserts that voice over internet protocol ("VoIP") is part of a hybrid service, a service combining message-switching capability with data processing. The FCC considers a hybrid service to be an information service. Switched access charges do not apply to information service under the enhanced service provider ("ESP") exemption.
3. Qwest argues that VoIP is a telecommunications service because it does not provide additional, different or restructured information to the subscriber. Switched access charges apply to telecommunications service.
4. Both parties offer a considerable amount of testimony about the classification, telecommunications or information service, of VoIP. The import of the respective classifications for VoIP is that as a telecommunications service, switched access charges would apply; as an information service, the charges would not apply. Based on testimony offered in this docket, however, we do not need to classify VoIP to determine if VoIP uses switched access services.
5. Qwest witnesses McDaniel and Craig, and ICG witness Gillan, testified how VoIP works: An end-user dials a local telephone number to gain access to the gateway of a private network; the end-user responds to the prompts of the gateway to enter the telephone number of the party he wishes to call; the private network then delivers the call to the terminating network.
6. A toll call works as follows: The end-user dials the long distance telephone number of the party he wishes to call; the incumbent local exchange carrier's("ILEC") network uses switched access (switch and transport functions) to hand the call off to the end-user's IXC; the IXC's network then delivers the call to the terminating network.
7. ICG's VoIP offering does not use Qwest's network in the same manner as calls for which switched access charges apply. When switched access is used, Qwest provides routing and switching from the end-user at the originating end to the IXC, and routing and switching from the IXC to the called party at the receiving end. If both the originating end and receiving end are within the same LATA, Qwest also provides the switched access transmission path. Switched access charges are applied to recover these costs of routing, switching, and the transmission path. In contrast, with ICG's VoIP, ICG's gateway and ICG's IP network are used to deliver the call from the end-user at the originating end to the called party at the receiving-end. VoIP does not use Qwest's routing, switching, and transmission path services. Because the functionality and network use for VoIP is different, it should not be subject to switched access charges. We reject Qwest's proposal to subject phone voice interexchange traffic transmitted over a carrier's packet switched network to switched access charges.
8. ICG's VoIP service does not constitute toll-bridging that the Commission has disapproved of in past cases. See, e.g., El Paso County Tel. Co. v. Voice Networks, Inc., Docket No. 99K-335T, Decision No. C00-760 (July 11, 2000); Avicomm, Inc. v. PUC, 955 P. 2d 1023 (Colo. 1998). First, in providing its VoIP product ICG is not using Qwest's local network in the same manner as an interexchange carrier would in providing toll calling. ICG provides a substantial portion of the facilities, including transmission and transport, used in offering its VoIP product. Second, the toll-bridging disapproved of by the Commission in the past involves the use of equipment and the local exchange carrier's network to forward a call across local calling areas, primarily for the purpose of avoiding access charges. Here, in contrast, the primary purpose of ICG's VoIP product is neither the avoidance of access charges, nor, from end-users perspective, the avoidance of toll charges.
9. To say that ICG's VoIP offering is not subject to switched access charges is not to say that an interconnection agreement reached in a competitive market would provide for no compensation to Qwest for VoIP's use of its network. To the contrary, a freely negotiated agreement in a competitive market would likely provide for compensation by ICG to Qwest for the actual cost VoIP imposed on the Qwest network. Of course, transaction costs and information costs would certainly affect this rate of compensation, as well. All that said, the Commission has no record on that and is presented with a binary choice -- switched access charges apply to VoIP, or not. Section 252(b)(4) of the Act limits our consideration to the issues presented in the petition and response. Based on that record, we believe that not subjecting VoIP to switched access charges better replicates the agreement that would be reached in a competitive marketplace and better satisfies § 251 of the Act, than the alternative.
10. We reject Qwest's proposed additional language. The interconnection agreement shall include the language agreed on by Qwest and ICG for sections (A)2.2, (A)2.44, and (C)3.1.
US West Complaint for Declaratory Judgment (Colorado PUC) (source: VON Information and Filing) (CO PUC) (filed concurrently with a petition at the FCC requesting for a declaratory ruling on IP Telephony) US West v Qwest, ORDER DENYING MOTION TO MODIFY DOCKET PROCEDURE (CO PUC June 9, 1999) "Most importantly, the complaint is clear that USWC seeks relief only against Qwest. The complaint requests a declaration that Qwest is required to pay USWC originating and terminating access rates for certain telephone traffic. USWC is not requesting an order binding other persons who are not par-ties to this case." Voice Network, Inc., v. U S West Communications, Inc., Decision Denying Exceptions, Docket No. 99K-335T, Decision No. C00-760 (CO PUC May 10, 2000) (DOC)B. Discussion
El Paso is a local exchange carrier ("LEC") subject to the Commission's jurisdiction under the Public Utilities Laws. VNI is also subject to the Commission's jurisdiction as a certificated competitive LEC and a provider of Part 3 (§§ 40 15 301 et seq., C.R.S.) telecommunications services. El Paso initiated this proceeding by filing its complaint against VNI on January 8, 1999. El Paso alleges that VNI, through its ExpressLine offering, is providing toll-bridging services (i.e., illegal interexchange telecommunications), and requests that VNI be ordered to cease and desist from this unlawful activity. After hearing, the ALJ agreed with El Paso concluding that VNI's ExpressLine service is unlawful. VNI now objects to the ALJ's conclusions.
1.VNI's ExpressLine Service
a. According to VNI, ExpressLine is a telecommunications service that provides customer features such as call-forwarding, call screening, voice mail, and an outbound dialing feature allowing customers to return a call left on voice mail without having to hang-up and redial. The critical component of ExpressLine, for purposes of this case, is that customers are permitted to make telephone calls from one local calling area to another local calling area. VNI concedes that ExpressLine customers are permitted to make calls between local calling areas, but asserts that it did not emphasize this feature in marketing ExpressLine to end-users. This point, however, is irrelevant to whether VNI is providing interexchange telecommunications service illegally. ExpressLine permits VNI's customers to make unlimited telephone calls between local calling areas (i.e., toll calls) for a flat monthly charge of $24.50. Even though VNI's ExpressLine permits customers to make calls between local calling areas, VNI does not pay access charges to LECs for the use of their networks in originating or terminating these calls.
. . .
f. Finally, VNI used packet switching technology (also known as, Internet Protocol), to permit ExpressLine subscribers to make interexchange calls. Under this last method, customers (using their local exchange service provided by a LEC such as USWC) would call a VNI telephone number. The call would "hit" a VNI voice gateway which would convert the call from a standard calling format to an Internet Protocol ("IP") format. After the call was converted to an IP format, it was sent via ICG Telecomm Group, Inc. ("ICG"), integrated services digital network lines to the Internet, which carried it to another VNI gateway. At the second gateway, the call would be converted back to a format recognized by the public switched network. From there, the call would be sent by the terminating LEC to the called party.
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2.g. El Paso correctly points out that the system of access charges established by the Commission is one of the principal ways in which local exchange networks in the State are funded. Significantly, VNI's improper avoidance of access charges through ExpressLine would subvert the entire system of access charges and even the system of toll charges implemented by the Commission. Other interexchange carriers would be unwilling to pay access charges if they were legally avoidable in the manner suggested by VNI in this case, and toll service would be provided in ways that allow end-users to avoid the system of toll charges established by the Commission. See testimony of witness McDaniel, September 28, 1999 transcript, page 60-61. Contrary to VNI's assertions, ratepayers would be significantly and adversely affected by VNI's conduct. Two of the principal methods for funding the local exchange network, access, and toll charges, would be lost. The result would likely be that most of the cost of the local network would be borne by ratepayers through the rates for local exchange service.
. . .
5. Use of Internet Protocol to Provide ExpressLine
a. Finally, VNI contends that its use of the Internet to provide ExpressLine is lawful. VNI argues that other carriers, specifically ICG, use IP telephony to provide interexchange services. In any event, VNI suggests, this issue (i.e., whether the provision of toll services through use of IP telephony is proper) should be decided by the FCC, not this Commission. We reject these arguments.
b. First, we agree with El Paso that, regardless of the technology used, the provision of interexchange services without payment of access charges is improper. This Commission has authority over the provision of intrastate interexchange services and it is appropriate to exercise that authority here. VNI is engaging in conduct that threatens serious harm to the system of regulation established by the Commission, in particular the access and toll charge system which help to fund the public switched telephone network.
c. As for VNI's argument that other carriers are providing interexchange service using IP and thereby avoiding access charges, the record fails to support this assertion. Mr. McDaniel testified to one instance in which a carrier was providing voice traffic using IP telephony. However, that carrier (Qwest Communications) withdrew that service after USWC filed a formal complaint with the Commission to require it to discontinue that practice. Mr. McDaniel further testified that USWC would take action (i.e., the filing of complaints with the Commission) if it learned of other carriers avoiding access charges for interexchange traffic through use of IP. September 28, 1999 transcript, pages 83-85. The record fails to support VNI's argument.
note 2: VNI's complaint against U S WEST Communications, Inc., which was consolidated with El Paso's complaint, was voluntarily dismissed by VNI.
Voice Network, Inc., v. U S West Communications, Inc., Order Denying Motion For Emergency Relief And Shortening Response Time, Docket No. 99f-500t (CO PUC October 22, 1999) (DOC) (denying VNI's request for emergency relief. VNI argued that it was entitled to Feature Group A rates. The PUC noted that it had ruled that VNI gets Feature Group A rates pending the outcome of another proceeding, but that VNI then voluntarily dismissed the other proceeding without an outcome.). See also In The Matter Of Petition By Icg Telecom Group, Inc., For Arbitration Of An Interconnection Agreement With U S West Communications, Inc., Pursuant To § 252(B) Of The Telecommunications Act Of 1996 Decision Denying Applications For Rehearing, Reargument, Or Reconsideration September 7, 2000:3. Qwest then argues (application for RRR pages 4 12) that the initial decision cannot be reconciled with the Commission's VNI decision and that the Commission's attempt to distinguish the VNI decision is unpersuasive. Qwest correctly points out that VNI was providing interexchange service through various methods including the use of packet switching technology (also known as Internet Protocol ("IP")). We determined in the VNI decision that the service provided by VNI resulted in improper avoidance of access charges. VNI specifically intended to avoid access charges. Trials and Market Deployments Comcast Boulder AT&T Broadband VoIP Trial in Boulder, Colorado. Putting VoIP to the Crash Test, CED May 2002 'Friendlies' Turned On In Comcast VoIP Trial Nuera March 2000 Comcast to buy AT&T Broadband, USAToday 12/20/01 NOC. Circuit switched trial.
- Letter from Level3 to Departmetn of Public Utility Control, Informational Filing Regarding the Provision of 911 Services by Level 3 Communications, LLC January 21, 2004
Trials and Market Deployments
- Evidence of VoIP Competition October 29, 2002
- Cablevision Optimum Voice Cablecos Set Sights on VoIP, Xchange February 1, 2004