DE 98-013

                          COMM SOUTH COMPANIES INC  

                      Petition for Authority to Provide
                      Local Telecommunications Services
                      Order Nisi Granting Authorization

                            O R D E R  N O.  22,934

                                 May 14, 1998

    On February 10, 1998, Comm South Companies Inc. (CSCI)
filed with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission
(Commission) a petition for authority to provide switched and
non-switched local exchange telecommunications services, pursuant
to the policy goals set by the New Hampshire Legislature in RSA
374:22-g, effective July 23, 1995.
  The Legislature directed the Commission to adopt rules
on or before December 31, 1996, to enforce the provisions of RSA
374:22-g.  Effective December 4, 1996, the Commission adopted
N.H. Admin. Rules, Puc Chapter 1300 which governs the petition of
applicants to become competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs).
  Pursuant to Puc Chapter 1300, an applicant's petition
for certification shall be granted when the Commission finds that
(1) all information listed in Puc 1304.02 has been provided to
the Commission; (2) the applicant meets standards for financial
resources, managerial qualifications, and technical competence;
and, (3) certification for the particular geographic area
requested is in the public good.
  The Commission Staff (Staff) has reviewed CSCI's
petition for compliance with these standards.  Staff reports that 
they have provided all the information required by Puc 1304.02. 
The information provided supports CSCI's assertion of financial
resources, managerial qualifications, and technical competence
sufficient to meet the standards set out in Puc 1304.01(b), (e),
(f), and (g).  Staff, therefore, recommends approval of CSCI as a
New Hampshire CLEC.
  CSCI has provided a sworn statement that they will not
provide any local exchange services until such time as a surety
bond is posted.  Staff has advised CSCI that the sworn statement
constitutes a request for waiver of the surety bond requirement
in Puc 1304.02(b).  Staff recommends granting the waiver.  The
waiver can be removed when CSCI provides evidence to the
Commission that the bond requirement has been met.
  We find that CSCI has satisfied the requirements of Puc
1304.01(a)(1) and (2).  In addition, we find that certification
of CSCI in its intended service area, Bell Atlantic's current
service area, is in the public good, thus meeting the requirement
of Puc 1304.01(a)(3).  In making this finding, as directed by RSA
374:22-g, we have considered the interests of competition,
fairness, economic efficiency, universal service, carrier of last
resort, the incumbent's opportunity to realize a reasonable
return on its investment, and recovery by the incumbent of
expenses incurred.  This finding is further supported by the
Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TAct).  Because CSCI has
satisfied the requirements of Puc 1304.01(a), we will grant
  As part of its application, CSCI agreed to concur with
Bell Atlantic's present and future rates for intraLATA switched
access or to charge a lower rate.  If, at any point, CSCI seeks
to exceed Bell Atlantic's access rates it shall first contact the
Staff to review the proposal.  We will monitor access rates as
the intraLATA toll and local exchange markets develop.  CLECs
charging higher access rates than they reciprocally pay Bell
Atlantic could inhibit intraLATA toll competition which would
call into question Section 253 of the TAct.
  Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby
  ORDERED NISI, that CSCI's petition for authority to
provide switched and non-switched intrastate local exchange
telecommunications services in the service territory of Bell
Atlantic, is GRANTED, subject, inter alia to the requirements of
Puc 1304.03; and it is
       FURTHER ORDERED, that request for waiver of the surety
bond requirement per Puc 1304.02(b) is granted; and it is 
  FURTHER ORDERED, that the Petitioner shall cause a copy
of this Order Nisi to be published once in a statewide newspaper
of general circulation, such publication to be no later than May
21, 1998 and to be documented by affidavit filed with this office
on or before May 28, 1998; and it is
  FURTHER ORDERED, that all persons interested in
responding to this Order Nisi shall submit their comments or file
a written request for a hearing on this matter before the
Commission no later than June 4, 1998; and it is
  FURTHER ORDERED, that any party interested in
responding to such comments or request for hearing shall do so 
no later than June 11, 1998; and it is
  FURTHER ORDERED, that this Order Nisi shall be
effective June 15, 1998, unless the Commission provides otherwise
in a supplemental order issued prior to the effective date; and
it is 
  FURTHER ORDERED, that the Petitioner shall file, ten
days prior to commencing service, a rate schedule including the
name, description and price of each service, with the Commission
in accordance with N.H. Admin. Rules, Puc 1304.03(b).

  By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
Hampshire this fourteenth day of May, 1998.

  Douglas L. Patch      Bruce B. Ellsworth     Susan S. Geiger
      Chairman             Commissioner          Commissioner

Attested by:

Thomas B. Getz
Executive Director & Secretary