skip to main content

H.R. 1582 (108th): Universal Service Fairness Act of 2003

The text of the bill below is as of Apr 3, 2003 (Introduced).


HR 1582 IH1S

108th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1582

To equitably distribute universal service support throughout rural America, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

April 3, 2003

Mr. TERRY (for himself, Mr. STUPAK, Mr. STRICKLAND, Mrs. WILSON of New Mexico, Mr. SHIMKUS, Mr. CANNON, Mr. INSLEE, Mr. OTTER, Mr. SIMPSON, Mr. TANCREDO, Mr. BISHOP of Utah, Mr. RENZI, Mr. DICKS, Mr. OSBORNE, Mr. BEREUTER, Mr. MCINNIS, Mrs. CUBIN, Mr. HASTINGS of Washington, Mr. POMEROY, Mr. KLINE, Ms. MCCARTHY of Missouri, Mr. RUSH, Mr. RADANOVICH, Mr. ROGERS of Michigan, Mr. BROWN of Ohio, Ms. DEGETTE, Mr. BARTON of Texas, Mr. BASS, and Mr. BEAUPREZ) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce


A BILL

To equitably distribute universal service support throughout rural America, 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 ‘Universal Service Fairness Act of 2003’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) FINDINGS- The Congress finds the following:

      (1) Consumers living in rural, insular, and high cost areas should have access to universal services at affordable rates.

      (2) Under the Federal Communication Commission’s high cost support program for certain carriers, two states receive approximately 70 percent of the Federal support, while 42 states receive no support.

      (3) Calculating Federal universal service support exclusively on a statewide average basis improperly places responsibility on most State governments to support high cost areas with minimal assistance from the Federal Government.

      (4) Federal universal service support should be calculated and targeted to small geographic regions within a State to provide greater assistance to the rural consumers most in need of support.

      (5) Federal and State support mechanisms for high cost areas must be reviewed to determine the extent to which high cost support reform is necessary.

    (b) PURPOSES- It is therefore the purpose of this Act to provide Federal universal service support to consumers living in rural, insular, and high cost areas by--

      (1) spreading the benefits of the existing Federal support mechanism more equitably across the nation;

      (2) facilitating removal of implicit State support; and

      (3) ensuring that the Federal Communications Commission develops a Federal support mechanism that will promote rate comparability between rural and urban areas.

SEC. 3. ELIGIBILITY FOR UNIVERSAL SERVICE SUPPORT FOR HIGH COST AREAS.

    Section 254 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    ‘(m) UNIVERSAL SERVICE SUPPORT FOR HIGH COST AREAS-

      ‘(1) CALCULATING SUPPORT- In calculating Federal universal service support for eligible telecommunications carriers that serve rural, insular, and high cost areas, the Commission shall, subject to the provisions of paragraphs (2) and (3), revise the Commission’s support mechanism for high cost areas to provide support to each wire center in which the incumbent local exchange carrier’s average cost per line for such wire center exceeds 3.75 times the national average cost per line.

      ‘(2) HOLD HARMLESS SUPPORT- In implementing this subsection, the Commission shall provide support for each State equal to the greater of--

        ‘(A) the amount calculated under the Commission’s support mechanism for high cost areas as in effect on the date of the enactment of this subsection; or

        ‘(B) the amount calculated pursuant to paragraph (1).

      ‘(3) LIMITATION ON SUPPORT TO BE PROVIDED- Notwithstanding paragraph (2)--

        ‘(A) no State shall receive support that exceeds 5 percent of the total support calculated under the Commission’s support mechanism for high cost areas as in effect on such date of enactment; and

        ‘(B) the total amount of support for all States shall not exceed the total support calculated under the Commission’s support mechanism for high cost areas as in effect on such date of enactment.

      The limitations in subparagraphs (A) and (B) shall not be construed to preclude fluctuations in support on the basis of changes in the data used to make such calculations.

      ‘(4) IMPLEMENTATION- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this subsection, the Commission shall complete the actions (including prescribing or amending regulations) necessary to implement the requirements of this subsection.

      ‘(5) DEFINITION- For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘Commission’s support mechanism for high cost areas’ means section 54.309 of the Commission’s regulations (47 CFR 54.309), and regulations referred to in such section.’.

SEC. 4. GAO REPORT ON NEED TO REFORM HIGH COST SUPPORT MECHANISM.

    Not later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall report to Congress on the need to reform the high cost support mechanism for rural, insular, and high cost areas. As part of this report, the General Accounting Office shall provide an overview and discuss whether--

      (1) existing Federal and State high cost support mechanisms ensure rate comparability between urban and rural areas;

      (2) the Federal Communications Commission and the States have taken the necessary steps to remove implicit support;

      (3) the existing high cost support mechanism has affected the development of local competition in urban and rural areas; and

      (4) amendments to section 254 of such Act are necessary to preserve and advance universal service.

SEC. 5. NO EFFECT ON RURAL TELEPHONE COMPANIES.

    Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect the support provided to an eligible telecommunications carrier under section 214(e) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 214(e)) that is a rural telephone company (as defined in section 3 of such Act (47 U.S.C. 153)).