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Commission Update

August 2017

Julie I. Brown

There's an app for that! Or is there?
Telecommunications continues to evolve

This month, colleges are welcoming new students. Which is probably why I'm seeing nonstop ads about the best cell phone plans for college students. Remember the phones we were using when these 18-year-old students were born? That should tell you all you need to know about how fast the telecom industry has changed in their lifetime. The question is: What will the industry look like when these students are pushing 40? Unfortunately, I can't predict the phone of the future, but I can provide insight on today's changing telecom industry in Florida.

Helping us perceive future trends is the Florida Public Service Commission's (PSC) annual Report on the Status of Competition in the Telecommunications Industry. Data from Florida telecommunications companies over a 12-month period is compiled in the report, and is delivered to the Florida Legislature by August 1 each year. Some of the report's highlights are listed below, or you can access the full report here.

For the sixth year in a row, total wireline business access lines exceeded total residential lines, according to our annual report. Not surprisingly, it confirmed that Florida consumers continue to shift from wireline service to wireless and VoIP services; data also indicates that residential migration may be slowing down. Landline losses are due to customers changing their primary phone lines to VoIP phone and wireless voice service.

Competition within the telecommunications industry is fueling mergers and acquisitions. This market consolidation trend continued in 2016 with several new telecom mergers and acquisitions, as the industry continued displaying dynamic growth and innovation. The number and variety of competitive choices among all types of service providers suggest that competition is positively impacting Florida's telecommunications market.

AT&T, CenturyLink, and Frontier Florida - the State's largest incumbent local exchange carriers providing traditional wireline service - continued to lose access lines in the national wireline market. During 2016, CenturyLink experienced a six percent decline in residential access lines, while AT&T declined 22 percent and Frontier declined 25 percent in the Florida market. Residential consumers have been eliminating traditional landline service over the last decade. While their reasons vary, saving money and desiring more mobility are likely reasons for landlines going down the same path as rotary phones.

AT&T and Frontier's mix of residential and business wirelines are slowly shifting toward business lines, which now comprise approximately 48 percent of their access lines. Competitors have almost 98 percent of their accounts in the business sector.

As in past years, VoIP and broadband drove the telecommunications markets in 2016. There are an estimated 21.1 million wireless handsets in Florida and an additional 4.2 million cable VoIP subscribers. Over 73 percent of Florida households have a broadband connection with download speeds of at least 3 megabits per second. The essence of a sophisticated communications infrastructure in Florida depends upon the strength of its evolving broadband networks.

With current market conditions and increasing competition in the industry, Florida's telecommunications regulation also continues to change. While the Florida Department of Agriculture's Division of Consumer Services can resolve issues with call completion, slamming, and cramming, the PSC still processes cases involving area code relief, number conservation plans, number resource reclamation, local number portability, and other numbering issues. We also facilitate dispute resolutions between carriers about local interconnection agreements and other wholesale issues.

Universal service remains a policy goal in Florida. The PSC oversees the federal Lifeline Assistance program which provides discounted telecommunications and broadband services to eligible customers so they can stay connected to their family, friends, and communities. We also oversee the Florida Relay Program, providing telecommunications services for the deaf and hard of hearing, and facilitate the resolution of consumer complaints relating to Lifeline, Relay, and pay phones.

The once vital landline probably won't be around when this year's freshmen turn 40. As we gaze into the future, I predict that students in the Class of 2021 might be the inventors of even more advanced services, still benefitting consumers and contributing to economic growth. In years to come, we might even see physical phones disappear. One thing's fairly certain - we will push the boundaries of interconnectedness in the next 20 years, just as we have in the last!

Julie I. Brown, FPSC Chairman      


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2540 Shumard Oak Blvd., Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0850

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September Commission Calendar

9/4 Labor Day Holiday
9/6 FPL/St. Johns River Prehearing
9/7 Commission Conference
9/12 Ten Year Site Plan Workshop
9/13 FPL/St. Johns River Hearing
9/19 IOU Hedging Practices Prehearing
9/27-28 IOU Hedging Practices Hearing

August News Releases

Florida PSC Commission Conference, Special Conference on Thursday

PSC Telecom Report Shows Competition Fuels Consumer Choice

PSC Concludes Utilities, Inc. of Florida Rate Case

Florida PSC Nuclear Cost Recovery Hearing Set for Tuesday

Calhoun County Senior Citizens Association, Inc. Named PSC Helping Hand

Tampa’s Hakeem Investments Receives PSC’s Triple E Award

PSC Recognizes Florida Lineworker Appreciation Day

July / August Notable FPSC Dockets

Electric Industry
Docket No. 20170175
08/14/2017   -   Joint petition for approval of amended territorial agreement in Orange and Osceola Counties, by Duke Energy Florida, LLC and Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Gas Industry
Docket No. 20170176
08/14/2017   -   Petition by Florida Division of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation for approval of special contract with Sebring Gas System, Inc.

Telecommunications Industry
Docket No. 20170172
08/08/2017   -   Application for certificate to provide local telecommunications service by Triton Networks, LLC.

Water and Wastewater Industry
Docket No. 20170171
08/07/2017   -   Resolution of the Board of County Commissioners of Leon County declaring Leon County subject to the provisions of Section 367, Florida Statutes.

Docket No. 20170178
08/21/2017   -   Application for original certificates of authorization for existing utility currently charging for water and wastewater service in Polk County, by Coastal Income Properties - The Harbor, LLC d/b/a The Harbor.

July / August Notable FPSC Orders

Electric Industry
Order No. PSC-2017-0321-CO-EQ   ♦ Docket No:   20170077
08/10/2017   -   Order PSC-2017-0321-CO-EQ makes Order PSC-2017-0278-PAA-EQ effective and final; docket to be closed.

Order No. PSC-2017-0331-CO-EI   ♦ Docket No:   20170069
08/18/2017   -   Consummating order PSC-2017-0331-CO-EI makes Order PSC-2017-0283-TRF-EI effective and final; docket to be closed.

Gas Industry
Order No. PSC-2017-0330-CO-GU   ♦ Docket No:   20170110
08/17/2017   -   Consummating Order PSC-2017-0330-CO-GU makes Order PSC-2017-0289-TRF-GU effective and final; docket to be closed.

Telecommunications Industry
Order No. PSC-2017-0329-CO-TP   ♦ Docket No:   20170082
08/16/2017   -   Consummating order PSC-2017-0329-CO-TP makes Order PSC-2017-0290-PAA-TP effective and final; docket to be closed.

Water Industry
Order No. PSC-2017-0311-FOF-WU   ♦ Docket No:   20150012
08/07/2017   -   Order PSC-2017-0311-FOF-WU approves transfer of County-Wide Utility Co., Inc.’s water system and Certificate No. 390-W to Southwest Ocala Utility, Inc. effective 7/13/17; existing rates and charges shall remain effect until a change is authorized by the Commission; SOU shall be responsible for filing Utility’s 2015 and 2016 Annual Report and all future Annual Reports and future RAFs; RAFs have been paid through December 2016; Commission declined to make net book value and acquisition adjustment at this time, matter shall be taken up at next rate proceeding for Utility; docket to be closed.