Last week Impulse President Dave Clark headed up to Sacramento to represent the California Association of Competitive Telecommunications Companies (CALTEL). The group reviewed potential legislation impacting the telecommunications industry as well as regulatory happenings at both the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Federal Communications Commmission (FCC), which play significant roles in continuing competitive access to the shared copper infrastructure maintained by Verizon and AT&T here in California.
The CALTEL group met with the Deputy Legislative Affairs Secretary at the Governor’s Office, along with several Assembly Members and Senators in leadership who came in to visit and learn more about the representing companies, their customers, and important issues.
One of the key concerns that Dave communicated was that the ATT and Verizon corporate entities out of state are directing their resources towards their wireless phone and television businesses and not providing adequate resources to their local operating companies and employees to properly maintain the copper plant that 90% of California businesses rely on for connectivity. Three years ago when Southern California was hit with a very wet winter the vulnerability of the system became painfully apparent as many businesses and consumers throughout the area went days without service. The rain permeated the points in the network where weather proofing has not been maintained and ultimately it required Verizon and ATT to pull technicians from across the United States to the region to restore services.
The PUC initiated a proceeding to look at the issue and the directive was issued for a third party audit of the maintenance problem in California, however no action on the issue is evident. In their meeting last week, Dave was able to personally point out that with the recent 4 inches of rain Santa Barbara received last weekend, the outage monitor in our Network Operations Center was “lit up like a Christmas tree” and Impulse staff was swamped the entire weekend supporting circuit outages. “If you’re a farmer in California you’re praying for rain, but if you are in telecom in California you’re praying for drought” Dave quips.
The second message that the CALTEL delegation wanted to make sure was received by the legislators is that as AT&T and Verizon’s talk about transitioning away from the traditional network to IP networks, it is important to understand that the requirement for access to the copper network doesn’t change and it is important that we as a country don’t confuse the migration from traditional voice switching to VoIP with the regulatory requirements that allow competitors access to the shared copper infrastructure to continue delivering innovative services like VoIP, ADSL2+, VDSL, Ethernet over Copper and many other new flavors of advanced broadband services that “turbocharge” the copper. The FCC will be the primary driver on this topic, but the delegation believes it is important for all of our governmental leaders to understand the issue and the potential economic impact on the State of California if those proceeding.
Great job up there CALTEL team, and we’re especially proud that our own Dave Clark was a part of this important group fighting for State support and fair business practices in our industry.