Welcome to the May 2013 edition of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) eNewsletter, where you’ll find news on upcoming events and the CPUC’s work to improve the understanding of mobile data service capabilities throughout the state.

 
 

CPUC Holds Public Participation Hearings To Hear From Consumers

The CPUC is holding a number of Public Participation Hearings throughout the state to hear from consumer on a number of issues.

In May the CPUC is continuing to hold Public Participation Hearings regarding the Application of California Water Service Company for approval to increase rates for water service by $92,765,000 or 19.4 percent in 2014; by $17,240,000 or 3 percent on January 1, 2015; and by $16,950,000 or 2.9 percent on January 1, 2016, in accordance with the Rate Case Plan.

May through June, the CPUC will hold Public Participation Hearings in various areas of the state to provide an opportunity for customers of PG&E to communicate directly with the CPUC regarding PG&E’s General Rate Case Phase 1 Application.

Also starting in May and continuing through August, the CPUC will hold Public Participation Hearings in various areas of the state to discuss potential changes to the California LifeLine program, such as new discount levels; expanding the services eligible for the discount, including wireless Lifeline service, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and other non-traditional services, and what these services might include; continued support for application of discounts to installation charges; pros and cons of pre-qualification of potential Lifeline customers; and, other topics of interest to California LifeLine subscribers or potential applicants.

Comments from the public can help the CPUC reach an informed decision, and consumers are encouraged to attend.

Written comments may be submitted to: CPUC Public Advisor, 505 Van Ness Ave., Room 2103, San Francisco, CA 94102 or via email to public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov. All public comments received are provided to the CPUC’s Commissioners and the Administrative Law Judge assigned to the case.

For more information on these Public Participation Hearings, including dates and locations, please see the CPUC’s Public Participation webpage.

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CPUC Co-Sponsored Bakersfield Small Business Expo

On Thursday April 11, 2013, the CPUC co-sponsored the Bakersfield Small Business Expo at the Bakersfield Marriott and Convention Center.

The event began with brief comments given by Robert Padilla, High Speed Rail. He introduced CPUC Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval who gave the opening address. There was a presentation and panel discussion on “Connecting Small/DVBE Businesses with Utility Contracts”. Salvador Enriquez from PG&E gave the presentation and then each panel member (the utilities and the CPUC’s Supplier Clearinghouse) gave tips and comments on how to connect with their company. The event was attended by 250 local business owners.

There was also an expo area with 35 exhibitors from federal, state, and local agencies (city/county); utilities; and chambers and small business resources providers. Exhibitors included: SBA, SBDC, CPUC, DGS, Kern County, High Speed Rail, WBENC, NAWBO, Supplier Clearinghouse, Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, Kern County Minority Contractors, Kern Waste Management, CA DVBE Alliance, and others.

There was also a matchmaking forum where approximately 350 matchmaking sessions were conducted by state agencies, local agencies, and utilities. Buyers conducted individual 10 minute meetings with potential small and diverse suppliers.

Finally, there were three workshops that took place: Access to Capital (conducted in conjunction with the Bakersfield Small Business Development Center), Small Businesses Go Green (presented by PG&E, a co-host of the event), and Certified Now What: Marketing Your Business to Public Agencies and Utilities (held by the Department of General Services).

It was a well-attended, lively event and the CPUC looks forward to conducting more such events in the future.

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CPUC Unveils Mobile Speed Testing Application; Begins Round of Broadband Testing Throughout State

The CPUC is undertaking a two-pronged approach towards greatly improving the understanding of mobile data service capabilities throughout the state: a mobile speed test application for Android phones and mobile broadband testing of the networks of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. This marks the first time the public and state officials will have access to such extensive information, generally only known by the companies themselves.

Mobile Speed Test Application
The CPUC has released a mobile application, called CalSPEED, which is available now as a free download for Android phones. CalSPEED is part of the CPUC’s efforts to determine the level of mobile data services available to consumers in California. CalSPEED provides consumers with a professional-level testing tool, composed of a suite of industry standard tests, to measure the quality and speed of their mobile data connections. The results of these tests can tell a consumer not only data speed, but whether their service will support real-time applications, such as Voice over IP and streaming video.

CalSPEED’s results are also sent automatically to the CPUC for mapping and analysis, and for display on the CPUC’s interactive California Broadband Availability Map.

CalSPEED can be downloaded via Google Play.  It will provide “crowdsourced” data to the CPUC, which will supplement data from the CPUC’s own field tests. Using this combination of data, the CPUC will know, with greater accuracy than was possible before, what areas of the state are lacking mobile service entirely, or receiving only poor mobile service.

Ryan Dulin, the CPUC’s Communications Division Director explains, “By using CalSPEED and our interactive Broadband Availability Map, consumers can better understand the capabilities of a provider’s service at the locations they will be using it prior to purchase. This will help consumers avoid costly termination fees they might otherwise incur by choosing a provider whose service does not meet their needs. The CPUC and state legislators will also use CalSPEED results, along with the CPUC’s field test results, to help better decide what areas will need government-funded broadband subsidies in order for all residents to have access to increasingly necessary broadband services.”

Although there are many free speed test applications available, the CPUC’s mobile application is the most extensive testing tool available to consumers today. The source code for the application will be available so that other states can easily modify it for their use. “I’ve been involved in field testing mobile broadband services for a long time. The CPUC’s new app is not only far more extensive but is based on public open source standards unlike other proprietary tools. This app lets consumers and policymakers have crucial information that, up until now, only the cellular companies themselves have had,” explained Ken Biba, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Novarum, and a consultant to the project.

Statewide Broadband Testing
The CPUC conducts its own biannual field testing of mobile broadband signals for the four largest carriers – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon – the third round of which just got underway. In the next few weeks, testers will log 35,000 miles testing at 1,200 locations across the state in order to provide valuable information to both consumers and policymakers.

Two previous rounds of testing have been conducted in the same locations, and will continue at six-month intervals. Repeated testing allows the CPUC to monitor the pace of deployment of the most advanced mobile technologies in urban and rural areas and tribal lands.

CalSPEED and the CPUC’s field testing activities are funded by a State Broadband Data and Development Grant awarded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The CPUC partnered with California State University Monterey Bay and California State University Chico, both of which provided valuable assistance in accomplishing this first-of-its-kind work.

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Visit our Consumer Information Center for more assistance. Consumers with utility complaints can call our Consumer Affairs Branch at 1-800-649-7570.

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© 2013, California Public Utilities Commission. All rights reserved.
May 2013

 



Produced by the CPUC's News and Public Information Office and Business and Community Outreach, 415-703-1366, news@cpuc.ca.gov
505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102.
 

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