On February 24, 1998 a new phase of this investigation was commenced, which phase concerns Section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. §151 et seq.) ("TA96"). As explained in the docket entry dated February 24, 1998, the purpose of this phase of the Commission's Section 254 rate compliance efforts is to develop general principles that will be later applied to specific companies. The docket entry also stated that at a minimum, these compliance principles need to be: (1) specific enough to ensure compliance with Section 254; (2) detailed enough to allow the parties to actually complete studies on a reasonably uniform basis between companies; and (3) general enough to allow the individual companies to adequately reflect their individual circumstances. On March 11, 1998, the Commission's agent, Mr. Paul Hartman, gave a tutorial on the provisions of Section 254. A technical conference was conducted on March 12, 1998. By docket entry dated March 16, 1998, a procedural schedule for the filing of testimony and the conducting of a hearing on Section 254(k) was established. The docket entry also provided a list of questions regarding Section 254(k) issues which the presiding officers found should be answered by all parties in their testimony.
Final Order on Interim Relief
With the passage of P.L. 92-1985, the Indiana General Assembly ushered in a new era of telephone regulation in Indiana. That Act, as amended by P.L. 23-1988 and codified at chapter 81-2.6 of the Indiana Code, acknowledged that "[t]raditional commission regulatory policies and practices and existing statutes are not designed to deal with" the competitive environment for telephone services the legislature hoped to foster. I.C. 8-1-2.6-1(3).
On May 4, 1993, Indiana Bell Telephone Company, Inc. initiated Cause No. 39705 seeking alternative regulation pursuant to I.C. 8-1-2.6. On June 30, 1994, this Commission issued an order in that Cause in which we declined to exercise much of our jurisdiction over the state's largest provider of local telephone service. Specifically, our order approved an alternative to the traditional "rate of return" regulatory framework, which alternative had been proposed by Indiana Bell, the Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor ("OUCC"), and numerous other parties to that cause with which Indiana Bell had entered into settlement agreements. This alternative regulatory framework, dubbed "Opportunity Indiana," expires on December 31, 1997.
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