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MOBILFONE NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (11/15/83)

decided: November 15, 1983.

MOBILFONE OF NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA, INC., PETITIONER
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION, RESPONDENT. COMMONWEALTH TELEPHONE COMPANY, INTERVENOR



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in the case of Mobilfone of Northeastern Pennsylvania v. Commonwealth Telephone Company, No. C-22065.

COUNSEL

Robert D. Mariani, Mariani and Greco, for petitioner.

Robert A. Christianson, Assistant Counsel, with him Daniel P. Delaney, Deputy Chief Counsel, and Charles F. Hoffman, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Bernard A. Ryan, Jr., Dechert, Price & Rhoads, for intervenor.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Blatt, Craig and MacPhail. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 337]

Mobilfone of Northeastern Pennsylvania petitions for review of a Public Utility Commission order which dismissed its complaint against the Commonwealth Telephone Company. We affirm.*fn1

Mobilfone filed a complaint against a tariff filed by Commonwealth Telephone, a competing radio-telephone business. The complaint alleged that the rates in Commonwealth Telephone's Supplement No. 60 to Tariff Telephone -- Pa. P.U.C. No. 19 were non-compensatory, non-competitive, unreasonable and subsidized by all customers of Commonwealth Telephone's landline operation. The Commission allowed the tariff and, following a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge issued a decision finding the rates properly set and recommending that the complaint be dismissed. Exceptions were filed and oral argument was held.

The issue before the Commission was whether Commonwealth Telephone's rates were compensatory

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 338]

    and whether Commonwealth Telephone's monopoly service ratepayers were cross-subsidizing the competitive radio-telephone service. The Commission adopted the Administrative Law Judge's decision.*fn2

The question of reasonableness of rates is an administrative question for the Commission to decide and this Court's scope of review is limited.*fn3 Peoples Natural Gas Co. v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 47 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 512, 409 A.2d 446 (1979). "[T]he establishment of a rate structure is an administrative function peculiarly within the expertise of the Commission. . . . [Q]uestions . . . concerning the reasonableness of rates . . . are factual questions for the Commission whose findings must be upheld if supported by competent evidence." United States Steel Corp. v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 37 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 195, 211, 390 A.2d 849, 857 (1978) (citations omitted).

In support of its argument that Commonwealth Telephone's rates are too low, Mobilfone alleges that the Commission erred in accepting the method employed by Commonwealth Telephone to determine its costs of providing radio paging service. Mobilfone contends that Commonwealth Telephone's methodology utilizes cost factors determined wholly on the basis of its ...


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