Summary: S.2827 — 96th Congress (1979-1980)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.2827. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (06/12/1980)

Communications Act Amendments of 1980 - Title I: General - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to declare that such Act applies to, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has jurisdiction over: (1) all interexchange and international telecommunications and all transmission of electromagnetic energy by radio, which originates or is received within the United States; (2) the licensing and regulating of all radio stations; and (3) all persons engaged within the United States in such telecommunications or such radio transmissions.

Directs the FCC to develop and report to Congress on methods for determining the value of and collecting fees for the commercial benefit received by various classes of licenses.

Title II: Domestic and International Telecommunications; Rural Telecommunications Development - Directs the FCC to establish a transition plan to foster marketplace competition and to implement deregulation for interexchange and international telecommunications services, equipment, and carriers. Requires such plan to: (1) classify common carriers; (2) establish and implement an accounting system; (3) provide a procedure for the formation of fully separated affiliates and to monitor compliance; and (4) provide for practices and procedures for exchange access charges and a Universal Service Pool in substitution for existing arrangements.

Declares the policy of the United States to be reliance when possible upon full and fair marketplace competition to provide all telecommunications services. Directs the FCC to revise, reduce, or eliminate rules with respect to telecommunication services or carriers operating in a market as competition develops. Grants the FCC continuing authority over the provision of regulated telecommunications services and carriers. Directs the FCC to ensure that all allocation, assignment, and authorization policies, standards, and rules with respect to the licenses issued to telecommunication carriers are not inconsistent with such policy. Permits the FCC to establish nonadjudicatory (excluding economic) methods for choosing among competing applicants for radio frequencies to be used by telecommunications carriers.

Requires the FCC to identify those carriers deriving revenue from the procedures established by the telephone industry to allocate the costs and divide the revenues associated with the provision of basic telephone service. Classifies such carriers as regulated carriers. Requires the FCC to identify those regulated carriers which, together with affiliates, each serve 750,000 or more telephones to be classified as dominant-regulated carriers. Requires the FCC to identify any telecommunications carrier which owns, controls, or leases any international telecommunications facility. Classifies such carrier as a regulated international telecommunications carrier. Classifies further as dominant-regulated carriers any carrier providing basic telephone service internationally and the Communications Satellite Corporation.

Directs the FCC to classify or reclassify as a regulated carrier any carrier which owns or controls telecommunications facilities for which there is no reasonably available alternative or which provides any other regulated service. Directs the FCC to classify or reclassify as a dominant-regulated carrier any regulated carrier which is dominant in such ownership, control, or provision. Permits the FCC to reclassify any dominant-regulated carrier as a regulated carrier and any regulated carrier as an unregulated carrier.

Prohibits the FCC from regulating the resale of any telecommunications service except those offered by a quasi-governmental entity which has a statutory monopoly for the delivery of letters. Prohibits any regulated carrier from establishing or enforcing any restrictions on the resale, sharing, or other use of any service provided by such carrier. Prohibits any dominant-regulated carrier from engaging in any resale activity other than through a fully separated affiliate.

Authorizes the FCC to prescribe different requirements for different regulated carriers, considering the extent of telecommunications facility ownership or control and the nature of services offered. Makes a regulated carrier liable for damages to any persons injured for violations of such Act.

Requires every regulated international carrier, regulated interexchange carrier, and every carrier which owns or controls an exchange telecommunications facility for which there is no reasonably available alternative facility to interconnect with the telecommunications equipment of any other carrier or person upon reasonable request. Subjects all internal arrangements for interconnection to specified tariffs.

Requires every regulated carrier to make available any regulated telecommunications service for reasonable and nondiscriminatory tariffs.

Requires every telecommunications carrier to provide the FCC and the public with such information relating to telecommunications operations as is necessary for the FCC to carry out its duties under this Act. Authorizes the FCC to impose different filing, notification, and information requirements on different carriers. Requires regulated carriers to make public tariffs showing charges, practices, and regulations for regulated telecommunications services and through routes. Prohibits any regulated carrier from providing regulated telecommunications services unless such tariffs are filed. Prohibits deviation from such tariffs.

Requires that new or revised tariffs proposed by regulated carriers for regulated telecommunications services be conditionally accepted or finally approved by the FCC before taking effect. Authorizes the FCC to facilitate public negotiation between such carriers and interested parties opposing such tariffs. Directs the FCC to hold hearings for good cause shown, upon request, with the burden of proof on the carrier to show that such tariff is just and reasonable. Authorizes the FCC to accept, condition, or reject such tariff or prescribe a different tariff.

Requires any non-dominant-regulated international carrier with respect to interconnection arrangements, and permits any regulated carrier, to file any new or revised tariff. Permits any party in interest to request a hearing concerning the lawfulness of such tariff. Authorizes the FCC to accept, condition, or reject such tariff.

Requires every regulated carrier subject to this Act to file with the FCC copies of all contracts or agreements with other carriers in relation to any regulated telecommunications service.

Authorizes the FCC to appraise any or all of the property owned or used by any regulated carrier, and by any regulated exchange carrier which originates, terminates, or transfers interexchange or international telecommunications. Repeals the provision relating to the Interstate Commerce Commission valuation of such property.

Permits any non-dominant-regulated carrier, upon notifying the FCC, to construct, acquire, or utilize new or extended exchange telecommunications facilities. Authorizes the FCC to require such carrier to obtain a certificate that the present or future public convenience and necessity require such construction, acquisition, or operation. Requires dominant-regulated carriers to obtain such a certificate. Permits the FCC to authorize a long-term facilities construction plan for a regulated carrier, rather than requiring such carrier to obtain a separate certification for each element of such plan. Authorizes the FCC to condition or refuse such authorization or certification as the public convenience and necessity may require.

Authorizes the FCC to require, after opportunity for a hearing, a regulated carrier to extend its facilities for the expeditious and efficient performance of its services.

Permits telecommunications carriers to meet, plan, and agree, under the auspices of the FCC, on matters affecting the design, maintenance, management, development, and coordination of telecommunications networks necessary to the joint provision of end-to-end through services. Authorizes the FCC to authorize temporary or emergency augmentation of facilities or services or discontinuance, reduction, or impairment of services or facilities.

Requires any dominant-regulated carrier and its affiliates to: (1) file with the FCC a description of the operational protocols and technical interface requirements for connection with or use of any regulated telecommunications services; and (2) report regularly to the FCC any material change in such protocols or requirements and summaries of construction programs or activities which would affect the service offerings of competing carriers or persons seeking interconnection. Requires such information to be withheld from a fully separated affiliate or an internal competitive support division until filed.

Directs the FCC to prescribe guidelines of general applicability relating to recordkeeping requirements for regulated carriers. Authorizes (presently directs) the FCC to prescribe for such carriers the classes of property for which depreciation charges may be included in operating expenses. Repeals the forfeiture provision for failure to keep required records.

Requires any carrier which provides basic telephone or telecommunications service to allocate to each route all of the costs which vary directly with traffic on that route and a proportionate share of interexchange joint and common costs.

Repeals provisions of the 1934 Act concerning consolidations and mergers of telegraph carriers, effective January 1, 1981.

Directs the FCC to establish a Joint Board to assist in: (1) establishing uniform practices to ascertain and apportion the costs of exchange operations between exchange and interexchange services and among interexchange services; and (2) managing the Universal Service Pool. Requires the FCC to establish the forms for records to be kept by carriers providing such exchange access. Requires each such carrier to file with the FCC a tariff governing the charges, practices, and conditions for the use of its exchange telecommunications services. Sets forth the requirements for access charges, including nondiscrimination and directly related cost-basing. Directs the FCC to establish a schedule of surcharges to ensure the continued universal availability of basic telephone service at reasonable rates. Limits the annual amount to be collected through surcharges and places such surcharges in a Universal Service Pool. Requires the Joint Board to authorize the transfer of such funds between and among carriers to ensure that exchange basic telephone rates, access costs, and the cost of rural connecting toll links are not unreasonably high. Sets forth the procedures for approving applications for payments. Directs the FCC to review and approve any plan for cooperative arrangements among carriers.

Requires a utility to provide reasonable, nondiscriminatory access for pole attachments by any cable television system or by any telecommunications carrier.

Directs each State commission to configure exchange telecommunications areas within the borders of each such State. Sets forth the criteria for reconfiguration, requiring every point within a State to be included within an exchange area. Authorizes the FCC to alter the boundaries of an exchange area if such configuration does not conform with the specified criteria. Directs the Joint Board to periodically examine such configurations.

Sets forth the terms and conditions under which a fully separated affiliate must operate, including total separation of membership on the governing boards and separate recordkeeping requirements. Permits specified transactions at fair market value between such entities, including the sale of property, the lending of money, and the furnishing of goods and services. Prohibits such entities from jointly owning property or engaging in joint sales or marketing. Requires an FCC ruling to establish a fully separated affiliate.

Establishes interim procedures for the conduct of research, development, and manufacturing activities of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) until AT&T establishes such fully separated affiliates. Requires business dealings among AT&T, any competitive support division, and any fully separated affiliate to be on an arms length basis and for fair market value. Permits a refusal to deal with any nonaffiliate if such refusal is based upon prudent business judgment. Requires each division of AT&T to bear its properly allocable share of costs for management and research.

Requires AT&T to receive FCC approval before offering any telecommunications service or equipment on an unregulated basis. Prohibits the exchange of information from a dominant-regulated carrier to a competitive support-division which would give an unfair, competitive advantage. Requires all functions related to final assembly of any unregulated telecommunications equipment or equipment to be used in support of any unregulated service to be performed by a fully separated affiliate by a specified time. Sets forth a schedule for the transfer of specified functions and information to such affiliate.

Requires the establishment of an assets evaluation board to determine the value of assets transferred from AT&T to any fully separated affiliate. Permits the FCC to waive such transition schedule if intervening events beyond the control of AT&T render it incapable of compliance.

Prohibits AT&T from transferring in support of any unregulated services or equipment, any goods or services for which it is the only source of supply to a fully separated affiliate after the transition period. Exempts access to any telecommunications facility from such prohibition.

States that the 1956 consent degree involving AT&T shall not bar AT&T and any affiliate from providing telecommunications service or equipment or information services so long as unregulated telecommunications service is conducted by fully separated affiliates.

States that the provision of radioexchange telecommunications under any franchise awarded by a State and within a radio exchange area configured by a State commission shall be deemed an exchange service for the purposes of this Act. Directs the FCC to assure the feasibility of competition in the provision of all radioexchange telecommunications services through its allocations, assignments, and authorization standards and policies. Permits the FCC to impose requirements relating to the provision of radioexchange service by a regulated carrier to promote competition.

Sets forth the benefits, rights, and entitlements of an employee transferred from a dominant-regulated carrier, a dominant- regulated international carrier, or an affiliate to a fully separated affiliate. Permits a fully separated affiliate and any labor entity representing the employees of such unit to enter into a collective bargaining agreement which will supercede any such agreement between such carriers and the transferred employee.

Authorizes the FCC to coordinate the development and establishment of arrangements among regulated interexchange and international telecommunications carriers for mutual backup, restoration, and interconnection of each other's services necessary for the national defense, welfare, and security.

Authorizes the President to require any carrier subject to this Act to furnish, for compensation, telecommunications services or facilities to any Federal agency if such service is necessary to promote the national defense and security. Directs the President to coordinate any government program for enhancing the survivability of exchange, interexchange, and international telecommunications facilities and protecting against the unauthorized interception of telecommunications traffic.

Prohibits the FCC or any State from regulating the production, marketing, or other provision of customer-premises equipment or information services. Directs the FCC to prescribe regulations for separate pricing on a fair market value basis of such equipment or services or cable television service when offered in conjunction with a regulated service by a regulated carrier.

Permits the FCC to establish and enforce requirements relating to interconnection of such equipment and associated switching equipment to the facilities of any regulated carrier, any cable television system operator, and specified exchange carriers. Permits the FCC to establish and enforce minimum uniform technical standards for customer-premises telecommunications equipment. Authorizes the FCC to establish labeling requirements for such equipment.

Exempts the use of any information processing capability in support of a telecommunications service or system from the provisions of this Act concerning the provision of an information service.

Prohibits any dominant-regulated carrier from providing any unregulated telecommunications service or equipment, except through a fully separated affiliate after a specified time.

Authorizes the FCC, until a specified time, to require any unregulated carrier to continue to interconnect its telecommunications facilities with any person for a reasonable period of time if withdrawal of such interconnection would result in an unreasonable hardship.

Requires each regulated carrier to continue to provide under tariff any telecommmunications service which such carrier is providing upon the enactment of this Act for a specified time. Directs the FCC to determine which of such services will continue to be regulated or shall be unregulated through a fully separated affiliate or subject to specified safeguards.

Authorizes the FCC to determine what basic telecommunications service should be universally available at reasonable rates, prices, terms, or conditions. Permits any person to petition the FCC to classify any interexchange telecommunications service as basic. Directs the FCC to hold a hearing upon granting such petition to determine the terms and conditions of such service. Presumes that unregulated marketplace competition will universally provide such service, unless it is clearly and convincingly demonstrated that regulation is necessary. Permits the FCC to review any such determination and terminate regulation of service when regulation is no longer necessary.

Authorizes the FCC to restrict the number of cable television systems which may be owned or controlled in common by any person or in combination with other media interests, or by a regulated telecommunications carrier offering cable television services in the same operating area.

Prohibits any Federal agency or State from imposing any programming control or rate restrictions upon any telecommunications carrier or operator of a cable television or other broad band system, unless there are no reasonably available alternative electronic-media services.

Permits any telecommunications carrier to provide any international telecommunications service. Directs any regulated international telecommunications carrier to arrange for the collection and delivery of any traffic of any other U.S. carrier in any country in which such regulated carrier has an operating agreement.

Directs the FCC to develop an International Telecommunications Facilities Plan to increase the availability of cost-effective international telecommunications services and promote the economic and national security of the United States. Directs the FCC to authorize carriers and persons seeking to participate in the operation and ownership of such facilities to negotiate a proposed facilities plan with appropriate foreign correspondents. Requires such plan to be submitted to the FCC for review upon completion of negotiations. Directs the FCC to adopt and publish a United States International Telecommunications Facilities Plan for a specified period of time upon approval of such plan. Authorizes the FCC to meet with representatives of foreign telecommunications entities likely to be affected by such plan during such plan's development. Requires adequate notice and transcripts of such meetings to be made public. States that the FCC shall retain jurisdiction over the use of authorized facilities among international carriers and may redistribute such facilities among such carriers.

Directs the Secretary of State to select appropriate representatives to conferences involving international telecommunications matters. Exempts such representatives from the private sector from specified restrictions.

Directs the President to assess the international information and telecommunications needs of the United States and to develop a policy to promote U.S. interests in international forums and with foreign governments.

Establishes a Federal Rural Telecommunications Interagency Task Force to be the principal coordinating body for Federal policies and programs relating to the provision of telecommunications services to rural America. Sets forth the terms and conditions of membership on such Task Force. Directs the Task Force to: (1) review all Federal policies and programs having a significant effect on the delivery of such services and to recommend changes to the appropriate Federal agency or Congress; (2) recommend solutions to interagency policy and program conflicts; (3) solicit the views of State and local governments and the private sector concerning such policies and programs; and (4) identify and develop new programs to enhance cooperation among such entities.

Requires each agency represented on the Task Force to submit to the President for transmittal to each new Congress biennial reports including a comprehensive review of the activities of such Task Force from its Chairman and a statement of recommendations from each such agency.

Establishes the Rural Telecommunications Planning Program, to be administered by the Secretary of Commerce, to fund the necessary costs of rural telecommunications facilities and services planning projects. Sets forth the requirements for a planning project grant applicant, including that such applicant be a State or State agency that will use such grant to develop a plan for the provision of telecommunications facilities and services to all rural areas of such State. Requires each planning project to: (1) identify rural areas within each State; (2) inventory existing telecommunications facilities and services serving such areas; (3) configure telecommunications service areas to reflect existing communities of interest; (4) identify the services to be facilitated through the use of telecommunications or other services; and (5) provide for a continuing State role.

Directs the Secretary to make planning grants not to exceed 75 percent of the necessary costs of such project. Limits the number and total amount of grants any one applicant may receive. Authorizes appropriations for such purpose for fiscal years 1982 through 1985. Directs the Secretary to conduct a continuing review of the planning project for each grant recipient. Authorizes the Secretary to terminate such assistance if the recipient fails to adhere, without justification, to the project as approved. Sets forth recordkeeping and auditing requirements.

Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish criteria for telecommunications loan eligibility. Sets forth factors to be considered in such criteria, including the provision of the most cost-effective communications technology to the widest practicable number of potential users.

Directs the FCC to compile and publish a list of regulations and policies directly and significantly affecting the provision of telecommunications services to rural populations.

Permits telecommunications carriers serving large rural areas with low population densities to provide cable television services, subject to appropriate conditions.

Directs the FCC to coordinate its activities with the Task Force to facilitate the issuance of licenses and the revision of rules.

Title III: Provisions Relating to Radio - Exempts from the licensing requirement certain classes of radio stations where no frequency assignments are made on an individual basis. Limits the licensing term to five years for the operation of a radio or television broadcasting station (presently broadcasting stations limited to three years). Permits the renewal of such license for up to five years. Limits the licensing and renewal term for the operation of any other class of station to ten years (presently five years).

Authorizes the FCC to grant an application for a license by random selection whenever more than one qualified applicant wishes to operate on a newly available frequency. Directs the FCC to establish procedures for broadcast station license renewal hearings when competing applications have been filed.

Excludes on-the-spot coverage of debates among candidates for the office of President and Vice-President which are not arranged by a broadcast licensee from the requirements of the equal opportunity rule.

Directs the FCC to prescribe regulations to ensure that a legally qualified candidate for Federal elective office can gain reasonable access to time on a cable television system as specified.

Permits the FCC to grant a permit for construction undertaken prior to such grant.

Directs the FCC to review all policies, rules, and regulations for radio broadcast station licenses concerning programming requirements. Directs the FCC to revise or eliminate regulations relating to radio or television broadcasting whenever available sources of audio and video services make such regulation unnecessary to protect the public interest. Requires the FCC to report to Congress on any deregulation of radio broadcasting programming and the extent to which new and diverse sources of audio and video or other services are available to the public.

Authorizes the FCC to delegate to qualified persons or organizations the authority to prepare and administer examinations for amateur radio operator licenses.

Authorizes the FCC to delegate to non-Federal government coordinating committees the function of coordinating the assignment of frequencies above 30 megahertz to stations in the terrestrial private land mobile and fixed services.

Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions - Transfers to the Secretary of Commerce from the Secretary of Education the authority to make grants to public and private nonprofit agencies and organizations to carry out telecommunications demonstrations. Revises the purpose of such demonstration projects to promote the development of telecommunications facilities and services for the transmission, distribution, and delivery of telecommunications services, especially rural telecommunications.

Title V: Conforming Amendments; Repealer; Reference - Makes conforming amendments to the Criminal Code, the Clayton Act, and the Communications Satellite Act. Authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to assist in negotiations with foreign entities for telecommunication trade rights, the marketing of telecommunications services and equipment, and information services and software. Disavows any intent to affect the applicability of the antitrust laws and any pending litigation. Directs the President to report to Congress on the development and implementation of a policy to promote United States interests in international forums and with foreign governments.

Authorizes the FCC to establish minimum performance standards for television receivers to reduce their susceptibility to interference from radio frequency energy.

Directs the FCC to establish reasonable ceilings for the fees to be paid to State or local government by operators of government-franchised cable television systems.