Appeal, No. 187, April T., 1956, from order of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 1956, No. 16232, in case of Wattsburg Telephone Cooperative Association v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Order affirmed.
J. Bryan, with him Clarence T. Bryan, Clifford H. Kahn, and Bryan, Joslin & Bryan, for co-operative association, appellant.
Edward Munce, Assistant Counsel, with him Thomas M. Kerrigan, Acting Counsel, for Public Utility Commission, appellee.
Frank B. Quinn, with him Quinn, Leemhuis, Plate & Dwyer, for telephone company, intervenor.
Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Carr, JJ.
[ 182 Pa. Super. Page 596]
Wattsburg Telephone Cooperative Association filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission charging that General Telephone Company of Pennsylvania had unlawfully encroached upon its exclusive service area when it extended local exchange service outside an agreed-upon operating territory in Wayne and Amity Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania. Complainant prayed that the respondent be restrained from constructing telephone lines and furnishing telephone service within the area served by complainant and that respondent be required to remove its lines and refrain from furnishing service in the area in the future. An answer was filed by the respondent denying that complainant has exclusive territorial rights in the area in question and after a hearing at which testimony was offered by both parties, the commission determined that the public interest would be served by the extension of respondent's service into the disputed area and ordered that the complaint be dismissed. This appeal by the complainant followed.
[ 182 Pa. Super. Page 597]
The General Telephone Company of Pennsylvania was formerly known as the Mutual Telephone Company which was incorporated under the laws of Pennsylvania on February 1, 1897 with charter power to render telephone service in the City of Erie and Millcreek Township in Erie County, Pennsylvania. On January 17, 1921 the Public Service Commission ordered the issuance of a certificate of public convenience evidencing the commission's approval of an amendment to the charter of the Mutual Telephone Company, granting the Company the right to enlarge its territory so as to include all of the counties of Erie, Warren and Crawford. However, in its order the commission made the following stipulation: "That prior to the construction of new lines into the territory specified in the aforesaid amendment and the furnishing of service over any new lines, the Mutual Telephone Company shall file its petition with this Commission and secure its approval for the construction of such lines and the furnishing of such service." On June 27, 1921 the Mutual Telephone Company acquired the rights, franchises and property of the Union Telephone Company of Erie which had been granted a charter on July 29, 1904 to construct and maintain telephone lines and exchanges in various counties in Pennsylvania including Erie County. By subsequent amendments to its charter the Mutual Telephone Company became the General Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, the name under which it is presently operating. The testimony establishes that both Mutual Telephone Copany and Union Telephone Company of Erie were furnishing local exchange service to the public in both Amity and Wayne Townships prior to January 1, 1914. Wattsburg Telephone Cooperative Association, the appellant here, commenced business on February 4, 1950
[ 182 Pa. Super. Page 598]
and was a successor in interest of the Wattsburg Telephone Company, an unincorporated association which had been providing service in the area of dispute for more than forty-five years.
Appellant contends the commission erred in finding that the General Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, intervening appellee, was not required to obtain a certificate of public convenience prior to rendering service in the disputed territory. This contention is without merit. The record fully substantiates the claim of the intervening appellee that it and its predecessors in interest were providing service in the disputed area prior to January 1, 1914, the effective date of the Public Service Company Law, Act of July 26, 1913, and therefore was not required to obtain a certificate of public convenience prior to commencement of operations in the area in dispute. The order of the commission properly held that "as a result of acquisitions and mergers and the rendition of local exchange service in the ...