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November 14, 1997


Appealed From No. P-00971203. State Agency, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Before: Honorable Dan Pellegrini, Judge, Honorable James R. Kelley, Judge, Honorable Charles P. Mirarchi, Jr., Senior Judge. Opinion BY Judge Pellegrini.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pellegrini


FILED: November 14, 1997

The City of Philadelphia (City) appeals an order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) granting a request for a declaratory order by Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania, Inc. (Bell Atlantic) and directing Bell Atlantic to provide its Master Street Address Guide used in Enhanced 911 (E-911) service to PECO Hyperion Telecommunications (PECO) without its consent.

This case involves the interplay between the Pennsylvania Public Safety Emergency Telephone Act *fn1 (commonly referred to as Act 78) providing guidelines for implementing and maintaining 911 emergency service, Chapter 30 of the Public Utility Code *fn2 designating the PUC's authority to regulate telecommunications services, and the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 *fn3 (Telecom Act) providing regulations to promote competition in the telephone industry since deregulation. Also involved are the responsibilities of the PUC and the City under those Acts relative to 911 and E-911 services.

Act 78 was created to provide a statewide emergency telephone 911 system to allow citizens in the Commonwealth to have rapid and direct access to emergency aid. Under this system, a person dialing 911 by telephone is connected to a public safety answering point *fn4 to request that police, fire, medical or other emergency personnel respond to a situation requiring immediate attention. To ensure that the 911 system was properly developed, implemented and maintained, counties were given the following powers and duties:

(1) To designate a member of county government as a coordinator who shall serve as a point of contact with the department (of community affairs) and shall develop a county plan for the implementation, operation and maintenance of a 911 system. Where technologically feasible, the county plan shall be adequate to provide service for the entire county.

(2) To make arrangements with each telephone company providing local exchange telephone service within the county's jurisdiction to provide 911 service.

(3) To send a copy of the proposed county plan to the appropriate telephone company upon submission of the plan to the department.

(4) To cooperate with the department, the council (Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council) and the commission (PUC) in preparation and submission of the county plan and contribution rate.

(5) To execute all contracts, mutual aid agreements, cross-service agreements and all other necessary documents which may be required in the implementation of the county plan.

35 P.S. § 7014(a).

Because the County of Philadelphia is the same entity as the City, and one 911 system serves the entire City/County of Philadelphia, the City has the authority to exercise the same powers and duties as counties under 35 P.S. § 7014(a).

As part of these responsibilities, the City was required to have a Master Street Address Guide (MSAG) to offer to emergency personnel to assist them in responding to 911 calls. *fn5 The MSAG contains all street names, house/building numbers and address ranges in the 911 serving area. It does not contain names and phone numbers of individuals. The MSAG is part of the database of customer information that is used in the Automatic Location Identification function (ALI) of E-911 service. *fn6 The City requested Bell Atlantic, a telecommunications carrier that provides 911 emergency phone service to the City, to develop and create an MSAG for the City's E-911 system. The City claimed that it paid Bell Atlantic a one-time nonrecurring charge of several hundred thousands of dollars for the MSAG and continues to pay Bell Atlantic a monthly fee of $33,297 for updates to this guide. *fn7

Without the City's knowledge or approval, Bell Atlantic entered into an interconnection agreement with PECO, a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) in Philadelphia, as required by the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Telecom Act). *fn8 The Telecom Act was enacted to deregulate the telecommunications industry and to promote competition among telecommunication carriers. That Act requires, inter alia, that Bell Atlantic interconnect with other competing telecommunications carriers and provide dialing parity, as well as nondiscriminatory access to 911 and E-911 services. 47 U.S.C. ยงยง 251(a),(b); 271(c)(2)(B)(vii)(I). The Telecom Act ...

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