An Act To Increase Competition and Ensure a Robust Information and Telecommunications Market
Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA §7102, sub-§6-A is enacted to read:
Sec. 2. 35-A MRSA §7104, sub-§2, as amended by PL 2011, c. 623, Pt. B, §13, is further amended to read:
Sec. 3. 35-A MRSA §7221, sub-§§4 to 7 are enacted to read:
(4) South Portland;
(6) Biddeford; and
(5) Cape Elizabeth;
(6) Old Orchard Beach;
(14) Brunswick; and
(1) An existing customer will still be provided service for one year from the date on which the obligation to provide provider of last resort service is removed at the same rates, terms and conditions as the price cap ILEC provides to provider of last resort service customers to whom the price cap ILEC is obligated to provide provider of last resort service; and
(2) The date, time and location of the public meeting required under paragraph D, which will be hosted by the commission in the municipality.
(1) With respect to a municipality, that, pursuant to the following standards, there is sufficient competition in that municipality to ensure access to affordable telephone service by households in the municipality:
(a) In addition to the price cap ILEC, there is at least one wireline-facilities-based voice network service provider that offers service to at least 95% of the households in the municipality; and
(b) One or more mobile telecommunications services providers offer, on a combined basis, mobile telecommunications services to at least 97% of the households in the municipality; and
(2) The price cap ILEC prior to filing the petition has met service quality requirements under section 7225-A in the immediately preceding 2 consecutive quarters.
The commission shall hold a public hearing in each affected municipality to allow customers of the price cap ILEC as well as other residents of the affected municipality to testify. The price cap ILEC shall give advance notice of the hearing to each customer in the municipality in its monthly billing statement and publish this notice in a newspaper of general circulation in that municipality.
For purposes of this subsection, "voice network service provider" has the same meaning as in section 7104.
In granting its approval under this subsection, the commission may impose such terms, conditions or requirements as in its judgment are necessary to protect the public interest. A price cap ILEC abandoning all or part of its plant, property or system or discontinuing service pursuant to authority granted by the commission under this subsection is deemed to have waived all objections to the terms, conditions or requirements imposed by the commission in its approval. A discontinuance approved under this subsection is not subject to further approval under section 1104.
Sec. 4. 35-A MRSA §7222-A is enacted to read:
§ 7222-A. Rates
For the purposes of this subsection, "low-income customer" means a customer who qualifies for assistance under the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program, as defined in 47 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 54.401.
Sec. 5. 35-A MRSA §7225-A is enacted to read:
§ 7225-A. Price cap ILEC service quality requirements
A report submitted under this subsection is confidential and not a public record under Title 1, section 402, subsection 3 and may not be disclosed to any person outside the commission, except as provided in subsection 3.
Sec. 6. Rules. The Public Utilities Commission shall provisionally adopt major substantive rules, as defined in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A, to implement Title 35-A, section 7221, subsections 4 to 6 by January 1, 2017. By January 1, 2017, the commission shall also review its rules adopted pursuant to Title 35-A, section 7225 and make any necessary amendments to account for changes as a result of the enactment of Title 35-A, section 7225-A. Notwithstanding Title 35-A, section 7225, subsection 3, rules adopted pursuant to the commission's review under this section are routine technical rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
Sec. 7. Commission review of effect of relief of provider of last resort service obligation. By January 15, 2018 and again by January 15, 2020, the Public Utilities Commission shall submit to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over utilities and energy matters a report related to the removal of the provider of last resort service obligation for a price cap ILEC under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 35-A, section 7221, subsections 4 and 5. A report under this section must list municipalities in which the obligation to provide provider of last resort service has ceased pursuant to Title 35-A, section 7221, subsection 4, paragraph B or in which the commission has approved in accordance with Title 35-A, section 7221, subsection 5 the removal of a price cap ILEC's obligation to provide provider of last resort service. A report under this section must also include the effect of the removal on former provider of last resort service customers, the price cap ILEC's workforce, the maintenance and status of the copper line network, public safety and the cost, features and availability of telephone service, including service to the hearing impaired, and broadband service. Each report may include recommendations for related legislation. The joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over utilities and energy matters may report out a bill relating to provider of last resort service to the Second Regular Session of the 128th Legislature and may also report out a bill relating to provider of last resort service to the Second Regular Session of the 129th Legislature. At least 30 days before submitting a report to the committee, the commission shall post the report on its publicly accessible website and allow persons to submit to the commission written comments on the report. The commission shall submit to the committee with each report all comments that it received on the respective report. If the commission in either report makes a recommendation to repeal or modify Title 35-A, section 7221, subsection 5, it may not, notwithstanding that subsection, accept a petition submitted in accordance with that subsection until 90 days after the adjournment of the session to which the report is submitted.
Sec. 8. Commission legal review; report. The Public Utilities Commission shall examine all laws and rules of this State relating to provider of last resort service as they apply to a price cap ILEC, as defined in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 35-A, section 7102, subsection 6-A, and determine whether any changes may be needed to conform those laws and rules to the provisions of this Act. The commission shall submit a report of its findings, together with any necessary draft legislation to implement its recommendations, to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over utilities and energy matters by December 15, 2016. The committee may report out a bill relating to provider of last resort service to the First Regular Session of the 128th Legislature.
Sec. 9. Commission's annual report. Through 2022, the Public Utilities Commission shall include in its annual report pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 35-A, section 120, subsection 7 information on provider of last resort service, including in which municipalities the obligation to provide provider of last resort service has ceased pursuant to Title 35-A, section 7221, subsection 4, paragraph B; the municipalities in which the commission granted approval of a petition in accordance with Title 35-A, section 7221, subsection 5; the municipalities, if any, in which the commission approved the discontinuance, reduction or impairment of service under Title 35-A, section 7221, subsection 6; and any complaints the commission may have received regarding the costs of or a lack of access to reliable basic telephone service in municipalities from which the provider of last resort service obligation has been removed.