DT 99-020
                 Order Approving Interventions 
               Establishing a Procedural Schedule
                    O R D E R   N O.  23,185
                         April 5, 1999
       APPEARANCES: Victor D. Del Vecchio, Esq. for Bell
     Atlantic-New Hampshire (BA); Anu Mullikin, Esq. for Dunbarton
     Telephone Company, Bretton Woods Telephone Company, Dixville
     Telephone Company, Wilton Telephone Company, Hollis Telephone
     Company, Granite State Telephone Company and Northland Telephone
     Company; James Sanborn, for Union Telephone Company; Beth Osler
     for Merrimack County Telephone Company and Contoocook Valley
     Telephone Company; Michael Reed for Kearsarge Telephone Company,
     Meriden Telephone Company and Chichester Telephone Company;
     Curtis L. Groves, Esq. for MCI WorldCom; Morton Posner, Esq. for
     Bay Ring Communications (BayRing)and WorldPath Internet Services
     (WorldPath); William J. Rooney, Jr., Esq. for Global NAPs
     (Global); Ronald E. Boehm for ValleyNet, Inc.; George W. Scott
     for MonadNet Corp.; Jeffrey L. Gore for FCG Networks (FCG); Mark
     E. Mallott for MV Communications (MV); Marc N. Evans for Destek
     Networking Group (Destek); John Leslie for John Leslie
     Consulting; Gent Cav for Metro 2000, Inc.; F. Anne Ross,
     Esq.;Richard Groves and Jared Groves for Digital Entropy; Carol
     Miller and Chad Miller for North Country Internet Access (NCIA);
     Jim Monahan for Vitts Networks; Kris Haight for Sugar River
     Valley Online; Michael W. Holmes, Esq., Office of Consumer
     Advocate (OCA) for Residential Utility Consumers; Larry S.
     Eckhaus, Esq. for the Staff (Staff) of the New Hampshire Public
     Utilities Commission (Commission).
               On February 8, 1999, the Commission issued an Order of
     Notice establishing this proceeding in the interest of statewide
     public safety and quality of communications to investigate
     congestion on the public switched telephone network (PSTN) caused
     by the proliferation of Internet usage.  The Commission has
     received complaints in more than eleven different exchanges over
     the past year relative to long periods of delayed dial tone and,
     in some cases, no dial tone or fast busy signals.   The
     Commission had also determined that the level of consumer
     complaints reflects a continuing deterioration in service for
     many New Hampshire customers, substantiated by monthly central
     office blockage and dial-tone delay reports from New England
     Telephone and Telegraph Company d/b/a Bell Atlantic-New
               Proliferation of Internet traffic and the lengthy
     on-line duration of an average session on the Web has increased
     the average holding time on central office switches resulting in
     delayed dial tone or service blockage. This investigation
     includes, inter alia, consideration of potential solutions to
     this issue such as: a prohibition of Internet Service Provider
     (ISP) traffic on the line side of the switch, development of a
     tariff designed to encourage ISP customers to purchase service
     that is provisioned from the trunk side of the switch, a
     requirement that ISPs disconnect customers from the network when
     not actively using the Internet for a specified period of minutes
     and any other potential solution to this problem. 
               The Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) were
     deemed to be mandatory parties to this docket.  In addition, the
     Emergency Communications Bureau (ECB) and the Office of Emergency
     Management (OEM) were sent copies of the Order of Notice as were
     known Internet Service Providers (ISPs).     
               In accordance with the Order of Notice, a Prehearing
     Conference was held on February 24, 1999.
                    A.   Bell Atlantic - New Hampshire (BA) 
               BA is experiencing a fundamental network change because
     of Internet traffic.  BA averred that it has added switch line
     units, rebalanced subscribers across existing line concentrators,
     added trunking umbilicals between hosts and remotes, added
     additional transport capacity beyond the host/remote
     configuration in New Hampshire for transport of traffic, and  has
     added message trunk capacity on switches.  Lastly, on an
     emergency basis, Integrated Digital Loop Carrier has been
     provided to maintain Internet service connections, as well as the
     integrity of the network in a particular exchange.  BA believes
     that solutions to network congestion include encouraging
     migration of ISPs to the trunk side of the switch.   BA also
     agrees that development of tariffs to encourage ISP customers to
     purchase services from the trunk side is part of the solution. 
     The quickest approach, according to BA, would be to permit
     special contracts on an interim basis.  The long term solution is
     to encourage Asynchronous Transfer Mode and Frame Relay
          B.   Intervenors
               There was no unanimity among intervenors regarding
     either the cause of the problem or the potential solutions. 
     Several comments were made concerning the impact of the situation
     on their businesses. NCIA, MonadNet and others maintained that
     getting service from BA was difficult, with long lead times for
     installation.  They also maintained that contract termination
     clauses in existing contracts were an impediment to switching
     from the line side of the switch.  Attorney Anne Ross, MCI and
     others maintained that it is the incumbent utility's job to make
     sure that there are adequate facilities available for both 
     telephone and the Internet.  ValleyNet, Global NAPS, BayRing and
     WorldPath suggested that the problem is due to the business
     practices of BA, lack of switch capacity due to BA
     non-investment, inadequate tariff incentives to move to the line
     side of the switch, including termination penalties, and the
     presence of BA as a competitor to Internet Service Providers. FCG
     stated that the process does not need PUC involvement and opposes
     any intervention to prohibit ISP traffic on the line side of the
     switch. They, too, indicated that the single largest difficulty
     encountered is the Centrex termination fees charged by Bell
     Atlantic to cancel Centrex contracts. FCG proposes that the
     Commission mandate a waiving of Centrex cancellation fees for
     ISPs, even if ISPs purchase digital services from one of BA's new
     competitors, in order to speed up migration to the trunk side of
     the switch. They also requested retroactivity to the beginning of
     1998 to reward the proactivity of ISPs that have already made
     such migration.  
               Auditel maintains the issue could have been resolved
     several years ago with ISDN if, in fact, BA had  proposed to make
     it an unmetered tariff and raised the price on it on a monthly
     basis.  It also maintained that there is plenty of
     infrastructure, fiber, and switch capacity, and that the problem
     is one of tariffs and cautioned the Commission against special
     contracts as a solution.  Sugar River Valley Online maintains the
     problem is that the public telephone network is overburdened due
     to unlimited usage by both some Internet users as well as
     unlimited calling telephone tariffs. They suggested a reasonable
     base for a reasonable amount of hours used and then a per minute
     rate in addition to the base rate.
          C.   Office of Consumer Advocate
               The OCA is concerned that Bell Atlantic may have a
     business motivation in there being a lack of adequate service.
     The OCA also stated it wants to make sure that low income and
     fixed income customers do not pay for the improvements associated
     with what OCA described as discretionary service.
          D.   Staff
               Commission Staff indicated that while it has no intent
     to restrict Internet usage, there needs to be a resolution to the
     issues and a more efficient use of the network for voice and
     Internet customers and others. The primary concern, according to
     Staff, is public safety, reversal of the deterioration of
     customer service, and determination of who should be responsible
     for the costs to achieve these results.
                    A.   Intervention   
               There having been no objection, all of the requests for 
     intervention received by the date of the pre-hearing conference
     are hereby granted.  Late filed requests for intervention were
     received from Sugar River Valley Online, TTLC and Vitts, all of
     which were represented at the Prehearing Conference and were
     given leave to file petitions to intervene by the Hearing Officer
     until the date of this Order.  A late filed petition was also
     received from NEVD of New Hampshire, LLC.  Those interventions
     are also granted.
                    B.   Procedural Schedule
               After the Prehearing Conference, the Parties and Staff
     met in a lengthy technical session to discuss the issues
     presented.  An agreement was reached to proceed initially in a
     collaborative format rather than a formal proceeding.  The
     Parties and Staff agreed that all data requests of Bell Atlantic
     - New Hampshire would be sent to Staff and BA by March 12, 1999
     and would be posted on the Commission's WebSite.  On March 29,
     1999, at 9:30 a.m., the parties and Staff will meet in a
     technical session at which BA will respond to the data requests. 
     A second technical session on April 13, 1999 will be held at
     which BA will present its proposed solution and responses to any
     further technical session data requests and to decide how to
     proceed further.
               Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby 
               ORDERED, that the above procedural schedule is adopted
     and the interventions are granted.
               By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
     Hampshire this fifth day of April, 1999.
           Douglas L. Patch       Susan S. Geiger     Nancy Brockway
               Chairman           Commissioner          Commissioner
     Attested by:
     Thomas B. Getz
     Executive Director and Secretary