skip to main content

H.R. 3788 (112th): E911 Surcharge Fairness Act of 2011

The text of the bill below is as of Jan 18, 2012 (Introduced).



2d Session

H. R. 3788


January 18, 2012

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


To ensure that State and local E911 fees, taxes, and surcharges are imposed in a fair and equitable manner with respect to prepaid mobile services.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the E911 Surcharge Fairness Act of 2011.



Congress finds the following:


Wireless E911 was established by Congress to provide for vital emergency communications systems for the benefit of end-users of mobile services and the public, and funding methods and surcharges are intended to be the responsibility of end-users and fair, equitable, and competitively neutral among all wireless providers and sellers of wireless service.


Wireless services have traditionally been offered on a monthly billed or postpaid basis, but in recent years the offering of wireless services on a pay as you go or prepaid basis, has grown to be a significant share of the wireless marketplace and this trend is continuing.


Wireless E911 has been typically funded in the postpaid model by a uniform monthly surcharge on customer bills, but prepaid mobile services are purchased by customers at retail on a pay-as-you-go basis, and there are no bills.


States have not adopted an effective uniform approach to collecting E911 surcharges from retail pay-as-you-go customers of mobile services, as has existed with postpaid mobile services, and solutions have ranged from imposing and collecting no surcharges from prepaid customers, to shifting the burden to pay the surcharge to providers and sellers of prepaid mobile services. The latter solution has resulted in unfair and inequitable treatment of the prepaid mobile service business model and reduced funding for E911.


Virtually all States require postpaid mobile service providers to simply put the State’s E911 charge on their monthly bills, and such providers are statutorily exonerated from any failure to collect the E911 charge from such customers. Those same States require prepaid service providers and sellers to serve as a financial guarantor of collection from all prepaid mobile service customers, notwithstanding the fact that there is no feasible method of collection for such providers and sellers for most customers.


There needs to be a uniform feasible collection method for prepaid mobile service customers to contribute to States’ E911 funds just as has been provided for postpaid customers via their monthly bills.


Congress, in House Report No. 110–442 and Senate Report No. 110–142, encouraged State and local governments to apply E911 fees equitably to communications services and to accommodate the prepaid mobile service business model.


E911 Surcharges


In general

Beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, no State or local jurisdiction shall impose a new unfair or inequitable E911 fee, tax, or surcharge (E911 fee) with respect to any prepaid mobile service, prepaid mobile service provider, or prepaid mobile service customer, nor shall it enforce a new or existing E911 fee in an unfair or inequitable manner.



In this Act:


E911 fee

The term E911 fee means any 911 or E911 fee, tax, or surcharge specifically imposed or designated by a State or local jurisdiction for the support of 911 or E911 communications systems and related public safety purposes, whether or not actually appropriated and expended for such purposes.


Mobile service

The term mobile service means commercial mobile radio service, as such term is defined in section 20.3 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, as in effect on the date of enactment of this Act, or any other service that is primarily intended for receipt on, transmission from, or use with a mobile telephone or other mobile device, including but not limited to the receipt of a digital good.


Prepaid mobile service

The term prepaid mobile service means mobile service which is paid for in advance, is sold in predetermined units or dollars, or for use within a predetermined period of time, and without the issuance of a monthly or other periodic bill.


Postpaid mobile service

The term postpaid mobile service means a mobile service which is paid for in arrears pursuant to monthly or other periodic billing arrangements.


New unfair or inequitable E911 fee

The term new unfair or inequitable E911 fee means—


any E911 fee that cannot be collected from end-users who are the intended payors of the E911 fees under the existing wireless business model of the prepaid mobile service provider; or


any E911 fee that is enforced in a manner that imposes strict liability on a prepaid mobile service provider for its inability to collect such E911 fee as prescribed in subparagraph (A).


Unfair or inequitable manner

The term unfair or inequitable manner means—


the imposition against a prepaid mobile service provider or seller of any E911 fee that the prepaid mobile service provider cannot collect from its end-user customers who are the intended payors of the fees under its existing wireless business model;


the enforcement of an E911 fee against a prepaid mobile service provider in a manner that creates strict liability for the prepaid mobile service provider or seller for its inability to collect as prescribed in subparagraph (A); or


the imposition of a E911 fee in a manner that results in the E911 fee being subject to other State or local taxes when such other State or local taxes are not equally imposed on the E911 fees paid by postpaid mobile service customers.



The term provider means a telecommunications carrier as defined in section 1 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 153(44)) that offers mobile service.