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AT&T Tells CPUC Not to Waste Time Finding Replacement COLR

Don’t put AT&T’s petition for carrier of last resort (COLR) relief on ice, the company urged the California Public Utilities Commission in an ex-parte filing released Tuesday. AT&T officials met virtually Feb. 14 with aides to CPUC Commissioners John Reynolds…

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and Darcie Houck, the carrier said in docket A.23-03-003. AT&T cited a CPUC email to parties indicating that the agency would postpone many deadlines in the proceeding to give more time to discover if any companies are interested in replacing AT&T as the COLR. AT&T argued that doing so “would be a waste of time and resources.” It “would be an about-face from the earlier decisions to allow the development of the evidentiary record and the process for notifying potential replacement COLRs to proceed in parallel,” the carrier said. Plus, there's no legal requirement for the commission to identify a replacement COLR or hold an auction to find one, it said. Even if the rules “were read to require a reverse auction, the Commission has express authority under Public Utilities Code [Section] 1708 to waive the requirement, which would be appropriate given that an auction would be futile.” Because the CPUC “has no established process to conduct an auction, it would have to develop the rules for an auction from scratch,” AT&T added. Plus, it’s “highly unlikely that any carriers would participate,” said the carrier. “With the increase in competition and the sharp decline in support from the High Cost Fund B over the past decade, it is even more unlikely that a carrier would be interested in becoming a COLR today.”