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Releases: PUC and Time Warner, GC clinic and Regence Foundation

PUC taking comments regarding telecommunication certification

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is taking comments through March 25 on the possible creation of a new certification process for some telecommunications companies doing business in Idaho.

Currently, competitive telecommunications companies that plan to offer local exchange service in Idaho must receive a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the commission.

In August 2010, the commission denied a certificate to Time Warner Cable Information Services because the company did not plan to offer local exchange service. Instead, Time Warner sought to offer Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to commercial customers in Idaho using primarily the facilities owned by its cable affiliate. The commission denied the certificate because Time Warner is a wholesale provider that offers services to other telecommunications companies, not to the public or end-users.

The commission said Time Warner did not need a certificate to provide competitive wholesale service in Idaho.

In order to sell their service, wholesale providers who do not have physical infrastructure must interconnect with existing companies who have facilities, such as Qwest. Time Warner asserted that existing providers in Idaho won’t interconnect with Time Warner without a certificate. Further, Time Warner alleged that without a certificate it won’t be assigned telephone numbers and connections with E-911 emergency service.

The Time Warner case led to a commission investigation that determined there are a number of competitive local exchange companies that have obtained a certificate to gain a foothold in the state but have never initiated service. A number of the companies objected to a commission letter suggesting the commission may rescind their certificates. The companies allege that revocation of their certificate would make it more difficult for them to comply with provisions of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 that they say requires certification to interconnect with existing companies and to be assigned telephone numbers.

In response, the commission has opened a docket to investigate whether some sort of certification process is appropriate for competitive providers who do not provide local exchange services. The certification would assist them in providing competitive service at a wholesale level. The commission is soliciting comments addressing the following questions:

1. Is a certification by the commission necessary for companies providing telecommunications services but not local exchange service?
2. If some sort of certification is needed, what form or designation should it take?
3. What legal authority does the commission have to issue certification that is not a CPCN?
4. What can the commission do to ensure telephone numbers are used efficiently by competitive companies and other telecommunications providers?

Comments are accepted via e-mail by accessing the commission’s homepage at www.puc.idaho.gov and clicking on “Comments & Questions About a Case.” Fill in the case number (GNR-T-11-01) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.

A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, is available on the commission’s website at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on “File Room” and then on “Telecommunications Cases” and scroll down to the above case number.

Clinic receives $92,000 grant from The Regence Foundation

The Regence Foundation has awarded a $92,000 grant to the Garden City Community Clinic, allowing the clinic to expand its dental program for low-income and uninsured patients. The clinic will now be able to see more patients, focus on preventive dental care, and educate patients about the connection between poor dental health and chronic diseases.

“The need for Garden City Community Clinic’s dental services is clear,” said Kieren Porter, Regence Foundation board chair. “The clinic reports that 60 percent of low-income residents in Ada County haven’t seen a dentist in over a year, and non-urgent dental issues are among the most common reasons for local emergency room visits by uninsured patients. One of the cornerstones of a healthy community is access to quality care close to home – and dental care is no exception.”

The Garden City Community Clinic program’s focus will be on catching and treating periodontal disease before it causes infection, pain or tooth loss by providing screenings to chronically ill patients and focusing on dental hygiene. It will educate patients and other medical providers about the ways dental infections and disease can affect blood sugar level and cardiac function.

The Garden City Community clinic is run by Genesis World Mission, an organization working to meet the medical needs of the less fortunate, both globally and locally. It provides a medical, mental health and dental home for those in the community who live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and are currently uninsured.

The Regence Foundation grant was given in partnership with the Regency Caring Foundation for Children, which helps provide free dental care to low-income children in Idaho and Utah.

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