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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.443

Introduced by Representative Obuchowski of Rockingham

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Broadband telecommunications; network modernization plans; retail petition authority

Statement of purpose:  This bill would require all basic exchange telecommunications service providers to adopt a network modernization plan to accelerate availability of broadband and wireless telecommunications in the provider’s service area by specific dates.  The bill would require each network modernization plan to be filed with the public service board and made available to the public in the form and detail required by the board.  The bill would authorize any municipality or other entity representing a minimum of 50 end‑user retail access lines to petition the public service board to amend a provider’s network modernization plan to include or accelerate broadband availability to unserved areas represented by the petitioners.  Under the bill, the public service board may approve a plan or, upon petition, modify a plan if it finds the plan, or modifications to the plan, to be a just and reasonable means to attain the broadband telecommunications availability goals required by this bill.  The bill would also provide that if a telecommunications service provider fails to comply with an approved network modernization plan in that service area, the public service board may issue an order to amend any incentive regulation agreement with the provider, to amend any contract with the provider for basic exchange telecommunications services, or to permit any other telecommunications provider or any municipality to extend or provide additional broadband telecommunications infrastructure or services in the service area.

AN ACT RELATING TO NETWORK MODERNIZATION PLANS FOR EXTENSION OF BROADBAND TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  30 V.S.A. § 226c is added to read:

§ 226c.  BROADBAND TELECOMMUNICATIONS; NETWORK
  MODERNIZATION PLANS

(a)  On and after January 1, 2008, a local exchange telecommunications company that enters into contracts for basic exchange telecommunications services under section 226a of this title, or is subject to an incentive regulation plan under section 226b of this title, shall adopt or amend a network modernization plan to:

(1)  commit to making at least 90 percent of its total end‑user retail access lines in its distribution network capable of providing broadband telecommunications services by December 31, 2009;

(2)  commit to making universal broadband deployment in or adjacent to public rights‑of‑way abutting all public schools, including the administration offices supporting public schools, industrial parks, and health care facilities in its service territory on or before December 31, 2010; and

(3)  commit to making 100 percent of its total retail access lines in its distribution network capable of providing broadband telecommunications services by December 31, 2011.

(b)  Public notice of network modernization plans.

(1)  A local exchange telecommunications company shall file with the public service board a network modernization plan on its provision of broadband availability to meet the goals in subsection (a) of this section.

(2)  A local exchange telecommunications company shall make its network modernization plans available to the public in the form and detail required by the board. 

(3)  Upon petition under section 226d of this title, the board shall hold hearings on a network modernization and issue any order it finds to be just and reasonable to accelerate broadband availability thereunder. 

Sec. 2.  30 V.S.A. § 226d is added to read:

§ 226d.  BROADBAND; RETAIL PETITION PROGRAM

(a)  Any person, municipality, business, development district, industrial development agency, or other entity seeking broadband services in areas where a telecommunications service provider’s network modernization plan filed under section 226c of this title does not provide broadband may submit a written petition for such services to the local exchange telecommunications company and to the public service board in accordance with this section.  If individual requests are received, the local exchange telecommunications company and the board shall aggregate requests for the same service and initiate appropriate action pursuant to this section when the required number of requests has been received.

(b)  To be considered a bona fide retail petition, the petition must include:

(1)  a request that a minimum of 50 end‑user retail access lines or 25 percent of end‑user retail access lines within a community, whichever is less, each be provided the same service or comparable services having a bandwidth within 100 kilobits per second (Kbps) of each other.  Notwithstanding the foregoing comparable bandwidth limitation, where a petition includes individual customer requests for advanced services having equal to or less than 1.544 megabits per second (Mbps) bandwidth in the downstream direction, all lines in the request shall be counted in meeting the minimum line requirement of this subdivision;

(2)  the name, address, telephone number, and signature of each existing end‑user retail customer requesting the service, the broadband service being requested, and the number of access lines for which the service is being requested;

(3)  the name, address, and telephone number of a designated contact person where the request is made by or on behalf of more than one person or business; and

(4)  a commitment by each customer who signs the petition to subscribe to the requested service for one year, subject to the local exchange telecommunications company’s identification of the price and terms of the service and the customer’s agreement to the price and terms.

(c)  In administering the bona fide retail petition program, the board shall require the local exchange telecommunications company to:

(1)  establish an internet website and toll‑free telephone number to address customer inquiries regarding the program;

(2)  mail a request form to a customer upon request;

(3)  confirm its receipt of any completed request in writing to the customer and identify the service requested;

(4)  as part of the written confirmation, if available, or in a subsequent written communication to the customer, provide the customer the applicable rate, the contract term, the status of the request, and a term subscription agreement for execution; and

(5)  notify the customers in a community, within 30 days of receipt of a bona fide petition, of the expected date of the availability of the requesters’ service.

(d)  When a bona fide retail petition has been received by the board that meets the requirements of this section, the local exchange telecommunications company shall provide the requested service, or other reasonably comparable service having a bandwidth within 100 kilobits per second (Kbps) of the requested service, to the service area or community as soon as practicable, but in no event later than 365 days of the date the requirements of this section have been met, or within the period approved by the board under subsections (e) and (f) of this section, where:

(1)  the local exchange telecommunications company provides the requested service to other customers in its service territory;

(2)  no service is available to the requesting customers from an alternative service provider at or within 100 Kbps of the data speed requested or such service is available at a price that exceeds the then current price offered by the local exchange telecommunications company by more than 50 percent; and

(3)  the community is situated within the service territory of the local exchange telecommunications company; and

(4)  the local exchange telecommunications company does not have to provide fiber to the customer’s premises to furnish the requested service.

(e)  Where, as a result of property acquisition, including acquiring rights‑of‑way, or new construction, a local exchange telecommunications company is unable to provide the requested service within the one‑year period set forth in subdivision (d)(4) of this section, the company may petition the public service board for an extension of up to six months, with service upon the customer or customers who made the bona fide retail petition and the board.

(f)  Where the total number of bona fide end‑user retail requests received by any local exchange telecommunications company or affiliated companies that meet the requirements of subdivisions (d)(2) and (4) of this section exceed 40 requests in any 12‑month period or where there are more than 20 such requests that require property acquisition, including acquiring rights‑of‑way, or new construction in any 12‑month period, the local exchange telecommunications company or companies may provide a verified certification to the public service board that one or both of the previously stated criteria are met, with service upon the customer or customers who made the additional requests.  Upon receipt of the certification, the board shall permit the local exchange telecommunications company or companies to extend the time for such deployments for a period of no more than 12 months unless the board determines an additional time period to be just and reasonable.  If a deployment is extended, it shall be counted in determining the maximum number of deployments provided for under this subsection in any 12‑month period covering the month to which it is extended.

(g)  Appeal to the public service board.  With regard to petitions submitted under this subsection, a telecommunications service provider or a retail customer may appeal to the public service board.  In addition to adjudicating any complaints brought under this subsection, the board shall monitor and enforce the compliance of participating local exchange telecommunications companies with their obligations under this subsection.  If a telecommunications service provider fails to comply with an approved network modernization plan in that service area, or a bona fide retail petition approved by the board, the board may issue an order to do any or all of the following:

(1)  amend any incentive regulation agreement with the provider entered into under section 226b of this title;

(2)  amend any contract with the provider for basic exchange telecommunications services under section 226a of this title;

(3)  permit any other telecommunications provider to extend or provide additional broadband infrastructure or services in the service area;

(4)  authorize a municipality or other political subdivision or any entity established by a municipality or other political subdivision to provide to the public for compensation any telecommunications services, including advanced and broadband services, within the service territory of a local exchange telecommunications company operating under a network modernization plan. 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us