Summary: H.R.4102 — 98th Congress (1983-1984)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (11/10/1983)

(Measure passed House, amended (Inserted text of H.R. 4295))

Universal Telephone Service Preservation Act of 1983 - Provides that the methods applicable on July 1, 1983, for allocating revenues for interstate toll (long-distance) service among carriers shall apply until the system of charges for exchange access set forth in the decisions and orders of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in C.C. docket numbered 78-72, as modified by this Act, takes effect.

Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit the assessment of an end-user common line charge against: (1) any residential subscriber of telephone exchange service or any business or other person that does not have more than one subscriber line; or (2) any subscriber which is a qualified orphanage.

Requires the assessment of a special access charge for any line that has indirect interconnection with the exchange facilities of an exchange carrier, whether or not such line is provided by such carrier. Directs the FCC to provide an exemption from such charge for any line that: (1) could not use exchange access as a commercially valuable alternative; (2) could not be used to avoid exchange access charges; or (3) is used solely for internal communications on a person's real property.

Requires the system of exchange access charges to include, by July 1, 1985, a charge on any carrier or person who provides exchange access functions, similar to those available from an exchange carrier, without direct or indirect interconnection with the exchange facilities of such carrier. Requires that such charge: (1) allow for the recovery of an equitable share of the carrier's costs in maintaining exchange service as an available alternative for persons served by such functions; and (2) not exceed ten percent of the special access charge until the FCC prescribes a formula for calculating a charge that more accurately reflects the carrier's costs. Provides that such charge shall not apply to a line that would be exempt from the special access charge or a line used by a person who certifies to the FCC that he or she will not use the exchange access services of an exchange carrier as a substitute or supplement for the line. Establishes a fine to be assessed against any person who attempts to evade such charge by fraud or misrepresentation.

Requires that any non-traffic-sensitive costs apportioned to the interstate jurisdiction that are not recovered under such charges, special access charges, or end-user common line charges be recovered through carrier common line charges. Requires that any reduction in common line charges attributable to the imposition of such other charges be reflected in reductions in charges for interstate telephone service. Limits the national aggregate percentage of non-traffic-sensitive costs apportioned to the interstate jurisdiction to the percentage of such costs apportioned to such jurisdiction as of December 31, 1983. Allows the FCC to permit the aggregation of such costs collected through common line charges.

Sets forth provisions governing the charges that shall be imposed by exchange carriers for exchange access by interexchange carriers that did not participate in the system of jurisdictional separations of carrier property and expenses on July 1, 1983. Provides for the differentiation of charges based on the quality of exchange access provided to the interexchange carrier. Requires exchange carriers to charge interexchange carriers that directly interconnect with such exchange carrier the full cost of providing exchange access. Requires persons who obtain exchange access for resale to pay the same amount for such access as paid by interexchange carriers, taking into consideration any amount such person may pay indirectly.

Requires any person who owns or operates facilities originating or terminating interexchange service, other than through direct interconnection, to notify the appropriate exchange carriers, the FCC, and the appropriate State commissions. Prescribes a penalty for failure to make such notification.

Directs the FCC, upon the request of a State commission, to delegate to such commission the authority to administer the system of access charges. Sets forth conditions under which the FCC may review, affirm, remand, or modify a portion of the tariff pursuant to a petition filed by an interexchange customer alleging that an access charge is not justified by cost.

Provides that exchange access and associated charges shall not apply to mobile services, except to the extent that such carrier provides interexchange communication.

Directs the FCC, by the effective date of the system of exchange access charges, to consider revising its exchange access orders and decision as they effect users of centrex-type services including non-governmental tax-exempt entities and State and local governmental entities.

Prohibits any exchange carrier from charging any residential customer for terminal equipment not leased from such carrier.

Permits a carrier to impose a charge for interstate directory assistance only: (1) in the manner provided for as of October 1, 1983; (2) for recovering the costs of such assistance from interconnecting interstate carriers; and (3) for directory assistance calls in excess of six per month per line.

Authorizes a State commission to provide that foreign exchange service be available to any subscriber with respect to: (1) exchange areas within the same standard metropolitan statistical area (SMSA); or (2) exchange areas in different SMSAs if such subscriber was provided such service on the date of enactment of this provision. Requires that foreign exchange service between two local access and transport areas within a State be provided by a carrier which is not prohibited from providing such service and which is subject to the jurisdiction of the State commission.

Establishes the Universal Service Fund to assure the continued availability of telephone service at reasonable and affordable charges. Directs the Universal Service Board to determine uniform surcharges on exchange access charges recovered from carriers or other persons directly or indirectly interconnecting with an exchange carrier, such that the Fund is sufficient to make required payments by January 1, 1986. Entitles an exchange common carrier to payments from the Fund: (1) based on the size of the carrier and the amount by which its certified average costs for all non-traffic-sensitive facilities per subscriber line exceed the national average of such costs; and (2) for 50 percent of its revenue loss (as determined according to a specified formula) incurred as a result of providing lifeline telephone service. Entitles an exchange common carrier to additional Fund payments if needed to assure that the total amount such carrier recovers from the system of exchange access charges and Fund payments is not less than the total revenues such carrier received for exchange access in 1982, with specified reductions.

Directs the Board to: (1) establish an exchange access board to administer the Fund in an expeditious manner; and (2) audit and adjust Fund payments to ensure that such payments are used to maintain reasonable rates without removing incentives for the efficient provision of exchange access or impeding the entry and operation of competitive suppliers of exchange services.

Directs the FCC to establish the Universal Service Board for the purpose of: (1) ensuring equitable and efficient economic treatment of users of common carrier services and exchange services and carriers providing such services; (2) providing for an orderly transition to the system of charges for exchange access established by this Act; and (3) achieving cooperation between the Federal Government and the States. Directs the Board to: (1) establish and maintain formulas for defining and comparing national average costs and charges and uniform practices for determining the payments required by the Fund, and to oversee the distribution of funds from the Fund by the exchange access board; (2) make such changes and modifications in the system of jurisdictional separation of carrier property and expenses in force as may be necessary for the transitional system of charges for exchange access; (3) establish and revise practices for ascertaining and apportioning the cost of services and facilities used jointly to provide exchange services and exchange access; and (4) take actions to minimize any unreasonable disparity for interstate service for rural or remote exchanges arising from the greater costs of connecting lines.

Requires any decision of the Federal-State Joint Board pending on October 1, 1983, to be submitted to the Board (in lieu of the FCC) for review and action.

Authorizes the Board to permit exchange common carriers which serve not more than 50,000 subscriber lines to use representative statistical cost data in lieu of individual cost statistics to support tariffs for exchange access.

Grants State commissions authority: (1) to establish classifications for exchange facilities and the portion of facilities used jointly for interstate and intrastate services assigned to the States by the Board; and (2) to prescribe the methods by which exchange carriers shall recover investments in such facilities. Requires that such methods provide for recovery of no more than the amount prudently invested in such facilities by not later than the end of the useful life of the property involved, and in a manner which promotes the economic viability of the exchange carriers.

Authorizes a State commission to require any exchange common carrier to lease and maintain on request a single basic one-line telephone instrument, and associated wiring, to any subscriber within such State on the basis of a tariff that includes all costs of providing and maintaining such instrument and wiring.

Requires each State commission to establish rules for the provision of lifeline telephone service by exchange carriers. Prohibits any lifeline telephone service from including any charge based on time of day of any call placed, or the duration of distance of the call. Defines "lifeline telephone service" as telephone service made available to residential subscribers for a single discounted charge under which a subscriber can make a limited number of calls within the exchange areas. Allows a Commission to restrict eligibility for such service on the basis of low-income criteria developed considering the needs of the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, and single heads of households. Prohibits a commission from making individuals receiving aid to families with dependent children, supplemental security income benefits, or benefits under the Food Stamp Act of 1977 ineligible for lifeline service. Requires the charge for lifeline service to recover at least 33 percent but not more than 50 percent of the carrier's average cost of providing exchange service to a residential subscriber.

Prohibits any carrier or exchange carrier from using revenues from regulated communications services to defray any costs associated with its entry into or engaging in commercial activities the prices for which are not regulated by the FCC or any State commissions. Prohibits the FCC or any State commission from considering a carrier's or exchange carrier's revenues from such unregulated activities in determining such carrier's or exchange carrier's revenue requirements.

Authorizes the unrestricted shared use of telephone facilities and services in any manner that does not interfere with the rights of others in their use of such facilities and services.

Authorizes the FCC to pay a person's costs of participating in a proceeding concerning communication carriers if such person represents an interest whose representation is necessary for a fair disposition of the proceeding and if such person could not otherwise afford to participate.

Authorizes the creation in each State of a nonprofit association of residential telephone consumers to represent such consumers before telephone carriers and governmental bodies. Grants any such association the right to intervene as a party or otherwise participate in any State or Federal civil action or administrative proceeding which the association determines may affect the interests of residential telephone consumers in its State.

Authorizes such an association to furnish telephone carriers with informational material about such association or other matters of interest to such consumers which such carriers shall include with their periodic customer billings. Directs the association to reimburse such carriers for the costs of including such material in customers' bills except for postage costs for material not exceeding a specified weight.

Sets forth provisions governing the election and duties of the Board of directors of each association. Requires the governor of each State to appoint nine individuals who are known to represent consumers' interests to serve as incorporators and as an interim board of directors of the State association.

Authorizes the establishment of the National Consumer Telephone Resource Center which shall: (1) be incorporated in the District of Columbia by selected representatives of State associations; (2) be directed by a board of directors composed of one representative of each State association; (3) provide technical information to State associations; and (4) represent the collective interests of State associations in Federal policy and rulemaking proceedings.

Prohibits any telephone carrier from interfering with a State association or the Center, subject to a $5,000 fine.

Provides that the creditable service and associated accrued benefits and assets of certain employees of an entity affected by the modified judgment of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in the case of United States v. Western Electric, et alia, shall be recognized after December 31, 1983, and governed by the provisions of such judgment as such provisions applied during calendar year 1984 with respect to transfers to or from the divesting corporation and any divested exchange carrier.