2004 Florida Statutes
(1) For the purposes of this section, the term "universal service" means an evolving level of access to telecommunications services that, taking into account advances in technologies, services, and market demand for essential services, the commission determines should be provided at just, reasonable, and affordable rates to customers, including those in rural, economically disadvantaged, and high-cost areas. It is the intent of the Legislature that universal service objectives be maintained after the local exchange market is opened to competitively provided services. It is also the intent of the Legislature that during this transition period the ubiquitous nature of the local exchange telecommunications companies be used to satisfy these objectives. Until January 1, 2009, each local exchange telecommunications company shall be required to furnish basic local exchange telecommunications service within a reasonable time period to any person requesting such service within the company's service territory.
(2) The Legislature finds that each telecommunications company should contribute its fair share to the support of the universal service objectives and carrier-of-last-resort obligations. For a transitional period not to exceed January 1, 2009, the interim mechanism for maintaining universal service objectives and funding carrier-of-last-resort obligations shall be established by the commission, pending the implementation of a permanent mechanism. The interim mechanism shall be applied in a manner that ensures that each competitive local exchange telecommunications company contributes its fair share to the support of universal service and carrier-of-last-resort obligations. The interim mechanism applied to each competitive local exchange telecommunications company shall reflect a fair share of the local exchange telecommunications company's recovery of investments made in fulfilling its carrier-of-last-resort obligations, and the maintenance of universal service objectives. The commission shall ensure that the interim mechanism does not impede the development of residential consumer choice or create an unreasonable barrier to competition. In reaching its determination, the commission shall not inquire into or consider any factor that is inconsistent with s. 364.051(1)(c). The costs and expenses of any government program or project required in part II of this chapter shall not be recovered under this section.
(3) If any party, prior to January 1, 2009, believes that circumstances have changed substantially to warrant a change in the interim mechanism, that party may petition the commission for a change, but the commission shall grant such petition only after an opportunity for a hearing and a compelling showing of changed circumstances, including that the provider's customer population includes as many residential as business customers. The commission shall act on any such petition within 120 days.
(4)(a) Prior to January 1, 2009, the Legislature shall establish a permanent universal service mechanism upon the effective date of which any interim recovery mechanism for universal service objectives or carrier-of-last-resort obligations imposed on competitive local exchange telecommunications companies shall terminate.
(b) To assist the Legislature in establishing a permanent universal service mechanism, the commission, by February 15, 1999, shall determine and report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives the total forward-looking cost, based upon the most recent commercially available technology and equipment and generally accepted design and placement principles, of providing basic local telecommunications service on a basis no greater than a wire center basis using a cost proxy model to be selected by the commission after notice and opportunity for hearing.
(c) In determining the cost of providing basic local telecommunications service for small local exchange telecommunications companies, which serve less than 100,000 access lines, the commission shall not be required to use the cost proxy model selected pursuant to paragraph (b) until a mechanism is implemented by the Federal Government for small companies, but no sooner than January 1, 2001. The commission shall calculate a small local exchange telecommunications company's cost of providing basic local telecommunications services based on one of the following options:
1. A different proxy model; or
2. A fully distributed allocation of embedded costs, identifying high-cost areas within the local exchange area the company serves and including all embedded investments and expenses incurred by the company in the provision of universal service. Such calculations may be made using fully distributed costs consistent with 47 C.F.R. parts 32, 36, and 64. The geographic basis for the calculations shall be no smaller than a census block group.
(5) After January 1, 2001, a competitive local exchange telecommunications company may petition the commission to become the universal service provider and carrier of last resort in areas requested to be served by that competitive local exchange telecommunications company. Upon petition of a competitive local exchange telecommunications company, the commission shall have 120 days to vote on granting in whole or in part or denying the petition of the competitive local exchange company. The commission may establish the competitive local exchange telecommunications company as the universal service provider and carrier of last resort, provided that the commission first determines that the competitive local exchange telecommunications company will provide high-quality, reliable service. In the order establishing the competitive local exchange telecommunications company as the universal service provider and carrier of last resort, the commission shall set the period of time in which such company must meet those objectives and obligations.
History.--s. 7, ch. 95-403; s. 18, ch. 97-100; s. 1, ch. 98-277; s. 1, ch. 99-354; s. 1, ch. 2000-289; s. 2, ch. 2000-334; s. 4, ch. 2003-32.