Federal Communications Commission
1919 M St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
Comment Date: December 16, 1996
Reply Comment Date: January 10, 1997
On November 7, 1996, the Federal-State Joint Board adopted a Recommended Decision, as required by Section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ("1996 Act"), regarding universal service. In the decision, the Joint Board made numerous recommendations on universal service issues including, for example, issues relating to: universal service principles; services eligible for support; support mechanisms for rural, insular, and high cost areas; support for low income consumers; affordability; support for schools, libraries, and health care providers; administration of support mechanisms; and common line cost recovery.
In addition, the Joint Board recommended that the Commission specifically seek additional information and comment on a number of topics including, for example:
1. Principles. How should the additional principle of competitive neutrality be defined and applied within the context of universal service?
2. Low-Income. What baseline amount of support should be provided to low-income consumers? Is the $5.25 baseline amount suggested in the Recommended Decision likely to be adequate? How can the FCC avoid the unintended consequence that the increased federal support amount has no direct effect on Lifeline subscribers' rates in many populous states with Lifeline programs, and instead results only in a larger percentage of total support being generated from federal sources?
3. Schools/Libraries. What methods should the Commission use for identifying high cost areas for purposes of providing a greater discount to schools and libraries located in high cost areas? What measures of economic advantage may be readily available to identify economically disadvantaged non-public schools and economically disadvantaged libraries or, if none is readily available, what information could be required that would be minimally burdensome?
4. Health Care. What is the exact scope of services that should be included in the list of additional services "necessary for the provision of health care" in a state? In responding, commenters should address the telecommunications needs of rural health care providers and the most cost-effective ways to provide these services to rural areas. What would be the relative costs and benefits of supporting technologies and services that require bandwidth higher than 1.544 Mbps? How rapidly is local access to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) expanding in rural areas of the country, and what are the costs likely to be incurred in providing toll-free access to ISPs for health care providers in rural areas? What are the probable costs that would be incurred in eliminating distance-based charges and/or charges on traffic between Local Access and Transport Areas (LATAs) (interLATA traffic), where such charges are in excess of those paid by customers in the nearest urban areas of the state? Do insular areas experience a disparity in telecommunications rates between urbanized and non- urbanized areas? Commenters should supply information on the size of cities and other demographic information pertaining to insular areas that might be used to establish the urban rate and rural rate in each of those areas. What costs would be incurred in supporting upgrades to the public switched network necessary to provide services to rural health care providers? To what extent, and on what schedule, might ongoing network modernization, as is currently going forward under private initiative or according to state-sponsored modernization plans, make universal service support for such upgrades unnecessary? What are the probable costs, and the advantages and disadvantages, of supporting upgrades to public switched or backbone networks where such upgrades can be shown to be necessary to deliver eligible services to rural health care providers?
5. Administration. Should contributions for high cost and low-income support mechanisms be based on the intrastate and interstate revenues of carriers that provide interstate telecommunications services, based on the factors enumerated in the Recommended Decision? Should the intrastate nature of the services supported by the high cost and low-income programs have a bearing on the revenue base for assessing funds? Should contributing carriers' abilities to identify separately intrastate and interstate revenues in an evolving telecommunications market and carriers' incentives to shift revenues between jurisdictions to avoid contributions have a bearing on this question?
We ask parties to address the effects that the Joint Board's recommendations to the Commission are likely to have on small entities and what measures the Commission should undertake to avoid significant economic impact on small business entities as defined by Section 601(3) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. These comments must be filed in accordance with the same filing deadlines as comments on the rest of the Recommended Decision, but they must have a separate and distinct heading designating them as responses to the regulatory flexibility analysis.
The Commission invites interested parties to file comments on the Joint Board's recommendations and on the Commission's legal authority to implement such recommendations. Copies of the Recommended Decision can be obtained from (1) the International Transcription Service (ITS), Room 140, 2100 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037 or (2) the FCC World Wide Web Home Page: http://www.fcc.gov.
Comments should be filed on or before December 16, 1996 and Reply Comments on or before January 10, 1997. Interested parties must file an original and four copies of their comments with the Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, Room 222, 1919 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20554. Comments should reference CC Docket No. 96-45. Parties should send one copy of their comments to the Commission's copy contractor, International Transcription Service, Room 140, 2100 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037. Parties must also serve copies of their comments on the individuals identified in the attached service list. After filing, comments will be available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room 239, 1919 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20554
Parties are also asked to submit comments on diskette. Diskette submissions would be in addition to and not a substitute for the formal filing requirements addressed above. Parties submitting diskettes should submit them to Sheryl Todd, Common Carrier Bureau, 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8611, Washington, D.C. 20554. Such a submission should be on a 3.5 inch diskette in an IBM compatible format using WordPerfect 5.1 for Windows software in a "read only" mode. The diskette should be clearly labelled with the party's name, proceeding, and date of submission. The diskette should be accompanied by a cover letter.
The Honorable Reed E. Hundt, Chairman Federal Communications Commission 1919 M Street, N.W., Room 814 Washington, D.C. 20554 The Honorable Rachelle B. Chong, Commissioner Federal Communications Commission 1919 M Street, N.W., Room 844 Washington, D.C. 20554 The Honorable Susan Ness, Commissioner Federal Communications Commission 1919 M Street, N.W., Room 832 Washington, D.C. 20554 The Honorable Julia Johnson, Commissioner Florida Public Service Commission 2540 Shumard Oak Blvd. Gerald Gunter Building Tallahassee, FL 32399-0850 The Honorable Kenneth McClure, Commissioner Missouri Public Service Commission 301 W. High Street, Suite 530 Jefferson City, MO 65101 The Honorable Sharon L. Nelson, Chairman Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission P.O. Box 47250 Olympia, WA 98504-7250 The Honorable Laska Schoenfelder, Commissioner South Dakota Public Utilities Commission State Capitol, 500 E. Capitol Street Pierre, SD 57501-5070 Martha S. Hogerty Public Counsel for the State of Missouri P.O. Box 7800 Jefferson City, MO 65102 Paul E. Pederson, State Staff Chair Missouri Public Service Commission P.O. Box 360 Jefferson City, MO 65102 Lisa Boehley Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8605 Washington, D.C. 20554 Charles Bolle South Dakota Public Utilities Commission State Capitol, 500 E. Capitol Street Pierre, SD 57501-5070 Deonne Bruning Nebraska Public Service Commission 300 The Atrium 1200 N Street, P.O. Box 94927 Lincoln, NE 68509-4927 James Casserly Federal Communications Commission Office of Commissioner Ness 1919 M Street, Room 832 Washington, D.C. 20554 John Clark Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8619 Washington, D.C. 20554 Bryan Clopton Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8615 Washington, D.C. 20554 Irene Flannery Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8922 Washington, D.C. 20554 Daniel Gonzalez Federal Communications Commission Office of Commissioner Chong 1919 M Street, N.W., Room 844 Washington, D.C. 20554 Emily Hoffnar Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8623 Washington, D.C. 20554 L. Charles Keller Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8918 Washington, D.C. 20554 Lori Kenyon Alaska Public Utilities Commission 1016 West Sixth Avenue, Suite 400 Anchorage, AK 99501 David Krech Federal Communications Commission 2025 M Street, N.W., Room 7130 Washington, D.C. 20554 Debra M. Kriete Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission P.O. Box 3265 Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265 Diane Law Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8920 Washington, D.C. 20554 Mark Long Florida Public Service Commission 2540 Shumard Oak Blvd. Gerald Gunter Building Tallahassee, FL 32399 Robert Loube Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8914 Washington, D.C. 20554 Samuel Loudenslager Arkansas Public Service Commission P.O. Box 400 Little Rock, AR 72203-0400 Sandra Makeeff Iowa Utilities Board Lucas State Office Building Des Moines, IA 50319 Philip F. McClelland Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate 1425 Strawberry Square Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120 Michael A. McRae D.C. Office of the People's Counsel 1133 15th Street, N.W. -- Suite 500 Washington, D.C. 20005 Tejal Mehta Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8625 Washington, D.C. 20554 Terry Monroe New York Public Service Commission 3 Empire Plaza Albany, NY 12223 John Morabito Deputy Division Chief, Accounting and Audits Federal Communications Commission 2000 L Street, N.W., Suite 812 Washington, D.C. 20554 Mark Nadel Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8916 Washington, D.C. 20554 John Nakahata Federal Communications Commission Office of the Chairman 1919 M Street, N.W., Room 814 Lee Palagyi Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission 1300 South Evergreen Park Drive S.W. Olympia, WA 98504 Kimberly Parker Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8609 Washington, D.C. 20554 Barry Payne Indiana Office of the Consumer Counsel 100 North Senate Avenue, Room N501 Indianapolis, IN 46204-2208 Jeanine Poltronieri Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8924 Washington, D.C. 20554 James Bradford Ramsay National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners P.O. Box 684 Washington, D.C. 20044-0684 Brian Roberts California Public Utilities Commission 505 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco, CA 94102 Gary Seigel Federal Communications Commission 2000 L Street, N.W., Suite 812 Washington, D.C. 20554 Richard Smith Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8605 Washington, D.C. 20554 Pamela Szymczak Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8912 Washington, D.C. 20554 Lori Wright Federal Communications Commission 2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8603 Washington, D.C. 20554