SB 0138 Regulation of Telecommunications Companies
Committee:COMMLR Number:S0753.05C
Last Action:05/15/95 - S Inf Calendar S Bills For Perfection w/SCS
Title:SCS/SB 138
Effective Date:August 28, 1995
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Current Bill Summary

SCS/SB 138 - This act makes numerous changes in the Public Service Commission's regulation of telecommunication companies.

The act defines basic network function, basic network service, effective competition, electronic publisher, electronic publishing services, and large (more than 500,000 access lines), medium (at least 100,000 and no more than 500,000 access lines) and small (less than 100,000 access lines) telecommunications companies.

The act also provides that the PSC may impose a flat rate annual assessment for private shared tenant service providers and customer owned pay telephone providers in lieu of the calculation currently used, except that the act does limit the assessment to a maximum amount. The assessments are used to support the regulatory activities of the PSC.

The act creates the Office of Telecommunications Policy (OTP) within the Office of Administration. The OTP shall be in the charge of a Director appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The powers and duties of the Director of the OTP are established.

Telecommunications company must have separate subsidiaries for electronic publishing services.

The act authorizes price and service regulation of large and medium telecommunications companies and includes: limited rate rebalancing, eligibility dates, a "social compact" with a price penalty for failure to invest pursuant to the compact, a requirement that an incumbent service provider shall be the "carrier of last resort" for at least 3 years after competition is present in an area and a requirement that regulatory treatment of an incumbent company shall be equivalent to the treatment of its competitors after three years unless the PSC determines that effective competition does not yet exist.

The act authorizes price and service regulation of small telecommunications companies and includes: limited rate rebalancing, a "social compact" with a price penalty for failure to invest, a requirement that an incumbent service provider shall be the "carrier of last resort" for at least 3 years and review of price changes by PSC upon petition by at least a certain fraction of customers.

The act requires the PSC to establish dockets for rules on at least the following "safeguard" issues: interconnection and access, uniform technical standards, unbundling of networks, local number portability, self-imputation of costs, resale, customer lists, subscriber privacy and the universal service fund.

The act establishes a "Universal Service Fund", which shall be administered by a neutral party without financial interest in telecommunications companies. All telecommunications providers shall contribute to the fund. The fund shall be used to ensure affordable and reasonable rates in high cost areas and to assist low-income customers and disabled customers in obtaining basic services. The PSC shall determine costs of providing service on a geographic basis and establish an eligibility standard for receiving assistance from the fund.

A company shall retain its "transitionally competitive" status for up to six months while the PSC reviews whether to extend or reinstate that status.

Provisions are included for the increase or decrease of telecommunication rates or charges and for the notification of the PSC and customers of such rate increases or charges.

The act amends provisions relating to annual reports of telecommunications companies. The company may request that portions of its report be kept confidential unless the PSC, the Office of Public Counsel, or an interested third party shows why the records should be kept open.

The act authorizes the PSC to consider historical accounts and projected changes in a company's revenues, expenses and investments when setting rates.

The act removes the existing monopoly status of a certificate to provide local telecommunications service. The act removes the ban on certification of competitor local telecommunications companies and requires the PSC to establish a process for certification of such competitor companies. A local service provider not subject to competition in its exchanges shall not be eligible to compete in other exchanges.

The act adds the following items to the "intent" of Missouri telecommunication law: to promote one hundred percent universal access to basic local service, to promote parity of urban and rural services, to promote economic, educational, health care and cultural enhancements and to protect consumer privacy.

This act is similar to HB 1076 from 1992.