Home > 107th Congressional Bills > H.R. 496 (ih) To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to promote deployment of [Introduced in House] ...

H.R. 496 (ih) To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to promote deployment of [Introduced in House] ...


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107th CONGRESS

  1st Session

                               H. R. 496

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT

   To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to promote deployment of 
  advanced services and foster the development of competition for the 
    benefit of consumers in all regions of the Nation by relieving 
    unnecessary burdens on the Nation's two percent local exchange 
          telecommunications carriers, and for other purposes.
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
107th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 496

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
   To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to promote deployment of 
  advanced services and foster the development of competition for the 
    benefit of consumers in all regions of the Nation by relieving 
    unnecessary burdens on the Nation's two percent local exchange 
          telecommunications carriers, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Independent Telecommunications 
Consumer Enhancement Act of 2001''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) Findings.--Congress finds the following:
            (1) The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was enacted to 
        foster the rapid deployment of advanced telecommunications and 
        information technologies and services to all Americans by 
        promoting competition and reducing regulation in 
        telecommunications markets nationwide.
            (2) The Telecommunications Act of 1996 specifically 
        recognized the unique abilities and circumstances of local 
        exchange carriers with fewer than two percent of the Nation's 
        subscriber lines installed in the aggregate nationwide.
            (3) Given the markets two percent carriers typically serve, 
        such carriers are uniquely positioned to accelerate the 
        deployment of advanced services and competitive initiatives for 
        the benefit of consumers in less densely populated regions of 
        the Nation.
            (4) Existing regulations are typically tailored to the 
        circumstances of larger carriers and therefore often impose 
        disproportionate burdens on two percent carriers, impeding such 
        carriers' deployment of advanced telecommunications services 
        and competitive initiatives to consumers in less densely 
        populated regions of the Nation.
            (5) Reducing regulatory burdens on two percent carriers 
        will enable such carriers to devote additional resources to the 
        deployment of advanced services and to competitive initiatives 
        to benefit consumers in less densely populated regions of the 
        Nation.
            (6) Reducing regulatory burdens on two percent carriers 
        will increase such carriers' ability to respond to marketplace 
        conditions, allowing them to accelerate deployment of advanced 
        services and competitive initiatives to benefit consumers in 
        less densely populated regions of the Nation.
    (b) Purposes.--The purposes of this Act are--
            (1) to accelerate the deployment of advanced services and 
        the development of competition in the telecommunications 
        industry for the benefit of consumers in all regions of the 
        Nation, consistent with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, by 
        reducing regulatory burdens on local exchange carriers with 
        fewer than two percent of the Nation's subscriber lines 
        installed in the aggregate nationwide;
            (2) to improve such carriers' flexibility to undertake such 
        initiatives; and
            (3) to allow such carriers to redirect resources from 
        paying the costs of such regulatory burdens to increasing 
        investment in such initiatives.

SEC. 3. DEFINITION.

    Section 3 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 153) is 
amended--
            (1) by redesignating paragraphs (51) and (52) as paragraphs 
        (52) and (53), respectively; and
            (2) by inserting after paragraph (50) the following:
            ``(51) Two percent carrier.--The term `two percent carrier' 
        means an incumbent local exchange carrier within the meaning of 
        section 251(h) whose access lines, when aggregated with the 
        access lines of any local exchange carrier that such incumbent 
        local exchange carrier directly or indirectly controls, is 
        controlled by, or is under common control with, are fewer than 
        two percent of the Nation's subscriber lines installed in the 
        aggregate nationwide.''.

SEC. 4. REGULATORY RELIEF FOR TWO PERCENT CARRIERS.

    Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 is amended by adding at 
the end thereof a new part IV as follows:

         ``PART IV--PROVISIONS CONCERNING TWO PERCENT CARRIERS

``SEC. 281. REDUCED REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS FOR TWO PERCENT CARRIERS.

    ``(a) Commission To Take Into Account Differences.--In adopting 
rules that apply to incumbent local exchange carriers (within the 
meaning of section 251(h)), the Commission shall separately evaluate 
the burden that any proposed regulatory, compliance, or reporting 
requirements would have on two percent carriers.
    ``(b) Effect of Commission's Failure To Take Into Account 
Differences.--If the Commission adopts a rule that applies to incumbent 
local exchange carriers and fails to separately evaluate the burden 
that any proposed regulatory, compliance, or reporting requirement 
would have on two percent carriers, the Commission shall not enforce 
the rule against two percent carriers unless and until the Commission 
performs such separate evaluation.
    ``(c) Additional Review Not Required.--Nothing in this section 
shall be construed to require the Commission to conduct a separate 
evaluation under subsection (a) if the rules adopted do not apply to 
two percent carriers, or such carriers are exempted from such rules.
    ``(d) Savings Clause.--Nothing in this section shall be construed 
to prohibit any size-based differentiation among carriers mandated by 
this Act, chapter 6 of title 5, United States Code, the Commission's 
rules, or any other provision of law.
    ``(e) Effective Date.--The provisions of this section shall apply 
with respect to any rule adopted on or after the date of enactment of 
this section.

``SEC. 282. LIMITATION OF REPORTING REQUIREMENTS.

    ``(a) Limitation.--The Commission shall not require a two percent 
carrier--
            ``(1) to file cost allocation manuals or to have such 
        manuals audited or attested, but a two percent carrier that 
        qualifies as a class A carrier shall annually certify to the 
        Commission that the two percent carrier's cost allocation 
        complies with the rules of the Commission; or
            ``(2) to file Automated Reporting and Management 
        Information Systems (ARMIS) reports.
    ``(b) Preservation of Authority.--Except as provided in subsection 
(a), nothing in this Act limits the authority of the Commission to 
obtain access to information under sections 211, 213, 215, 218, and 220 
with respect to two percent carriers.

``SEC. 283. INTEGRATED OPERATION OF TWO PERCENT CARRIERS.

    ``The Commission shall not require any two percent carrier to 
establish or maintain a separate affiliate to provide any common 
carrier or noncommon carrier services, including local and 
interexchange services, commercial mobile radio services, advanced 
services (within the meaning of section 706 of the Telecommunications 
Act of 1996), paging, Internet, information services or other enhanced 
services, or other services. The Commission shall not require any two 
percent carrier and its affiliates to maintain separate officers, 
directors, or other personnel, network facilities, buildings, research 
and development departments, books of account, financing, marketing, 
provisioning, or other operations.

``SEC. 284. PARTICIPATION IN TARIFF POOLS AND PRICE CAP REGULATION.

    ``(a) NECA Pool.--The participation or withdrawal from 
participation by a two percent carrier of one or more study areas in 
the common line tariff administered and filed by the National Exchange 
Carrier Association or any successor tariff or administrator shall not 
obligate such carrier to participate or withdraw from participation in 
such tariff for any other study area. The Commission may require a two 
percent carrier to give 60 days notice of its intent to participate or 
withdraw from participation in such common line tariff with respect to 
a study area. Except as permitted by section 310(f)(3), a two percent 
carrier's election under this subsection shall be binding for one year 
from the date of the election.
    ``(b) Price Cap Regulation.--A two percent carrier may elect to be 
regulated by the Commission under price cap rate regulation, or elect 
to withdraw from such regulation, for one or more of its study areas. 
The Commission shall not require a carrier making an election under 
this subsection with respect to any study area or areas to make the 
same election for any other study area. Except as permitted by section 
310(f)(3), a two percent carrier's election under this subsection shall 
be binding for one year from the date of the election.

``SEC. 285. DEPLOYMENT OF NEW TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES BY TWO 
              PERCENT COMPANIES.

    ``(a) One-Day Notice of Deployment.--The Commission shall permit 
two percent carriers to introduce new interstate telecommunications 
services by filing a tariff on one day's notice showing the charges, 
classifications, regulations, and practices therefor, without obtaining 
a waiver, or make any other showing before the Commission in advance of 
the tariff filing. The Commission shall not have authority to approve 
or disapprove the rate structure for such services shown in such 
tariff.
    ``(b) Definition.--For purposes of subsection (a), the term `new 
interstate telecommunications service' means a class or subclass of 
service not previously offered by the two percent carrier that enlarges 
the range of service options available to ratepayers of such carrier.

``SEC. 286. ENTRY OF COMPETING CARRIER.

    ``(a) Pricing Flexibility.--Notwithstanding any other provision of 
this Act, any two percent carrier shall be permitted to deaverage its 
interstate switched or special access rates, file tariffs on one day's 
notice, and file contract-based tariffs for interstate switched or 
special access services immediately upon certifying to the Commission 
that a telecommunications carrier unaffiliated with such carrier is 
engaged in facilities-based entry within such carrier's service area. A 
two percent carrier subject to rate-of-return regulation with respect 
to an interstate switched or special access service, for which pricing 
flexibility has been exercised pursuant to this subsection, shall 
compute its interstate rate of return based on the nondiscounted rate 
for such service.
    ``(b) Pricing Deregulation.--Notwithstanding any other provision of 
this Act, upon receipt by the Commission of a certification by a two 
percent carrier that a local exchange carrier that is not a two percent 
carrier is engaged in facilities-based entry within the two percent 
carrier's service area, the Commission shall regulate such two percent 
carrier as non-dominant, and therefore shall not require the tariffing 
of the interstate service offerings of such two percent carrier.
    ``(c) Participation in Exchange Carrier Association Tariff.--A two 
percent carrier that meets the requirements of subsection (a) or (b) of 
this section with respect to one or more study areas shall be permitted 
to participate in the common line tariff administered and filed by the 
National Exchange Carrier Association or any successor tariff or 
administrator, by electing to include one or more of its study areas in 
such tariff.
    ``(d) Definitions.--For purposes of this section:
            ``(1) Facilities-based entry.--The term `facilities-based 
        entry' means, within the service area of a two percent 
        carrier--
                    ``(A) the provision or procurement of local 
                telephone exchange switching or its equivalent; and
                    ``(B) the provision of telephone exchange service 
                to at least one unaffiliated customer.
            ``(2) Contract-based tariff.--The term `contract-based 
        tariff' shall mean a tariff based on a service contract entered 
        into between a two percent carrier and one or more customers of 
        such carrier. Such tariff shall include--
                    ``(A) the term of the contract, including any 
                renewal options;
                    ``(B) a brief description of each of the services 
                provided under the contract;
                    ``(C) minimum volume commitments for each service, 
                if any;
                    ``(D) the contract price for each service or 
                services at the volume levels committed to by the 
                customer or customers;
                    ``(E) a brief description of any volume discounts 
                built into the contract rate structure; and
                    ``(F) a general description of any other 
                classifications, practices, and regulations affecting 
                the contract rate.
            ``(3) Service area.--The term `service area' has the same 
        meaning as in section 214(e)(5).

``SEC. 287. SAVINGS PROVISIONS.

    ``(a) Commission Authority.--Nothing in this part shall be 
construed to restrict the authority of the Commission under sections 
201 through 208.
    ``(b) Rural Telephone Company Rights.--Nothing in this part shall 
be construed to diminish the rights of rural telephone companies 
otherwise accorded by this Act, or the rules, policies, procedures, 
guidelines, and standards of the Commission as of the date of enactment 
of this section.''.

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