2020 Georgia Code
Title 46 - Public Utilities and Public Transportation
Chapter 5 - Telephone Service
Article 4 - Telecommunications and Competition Development
§ 46-5-167. Universal Access Fund
- The commission shall administer a Universal Access Fund to assure the provision of reasonably priced access to basic local exchange services throughout Georgia. The fund shall be administered by the commission pursuant to this Code section and under rules to be promulgated by the commission as needed to assure that the fund operates in a competitively neutral manner between competing telecommunications providers.
- All telecommunications companies holding a certificate of authority issued by the commission to provide services within Georgia shall contribute quarterly to the fund as provided in this subsection. The commission shall determine the manner of contribution using either one or a combination of the following two contribution methodologies:
- A charge for each working telephone number; or
- A proportionate amount based on each company's gross intrastate revenues from the provision of telecommunications services to end users.
In calculating such contributions, the commission shall allow a local exchange company holding a certificate of authority issued by the commission after July 1, 1995, and before January 1, 2010, with primary headquarters in Georgia and more than 750 full-time employees working in Georgia as of January 1, 2010, to utilize accumulated unexpired Georgia net operating losses for taxable years ending prior to January 1, 2010, on a full dollar-for-dollar basis to reduce up to 50 percent of its contribution to the Universal Access Fund. Within the same tax year of the election, companies making such election shall formally notify the Department of Revenue that the company agrees to forego any rights or claims to the Georgia net operating losses so used. The commission may allow any telecommunications company certified as a competitive local exchange carrier to request a hearing seeking relief from this contribution requirement upon application, demonstration, and good cause shown that such competitive local exchange carrier does not receive a benefit from the reduction in intrastate switched access charges pursuant to subsection (c) of Code Section 46-5-166.
- Contributions to the fund shall be determined if, after notice and opportunity for hearing, the commission calculates the difference in the reasonable actual costs of basic local exchange services throughout Georgia and the maximum amounts that may be charged for such services and shall also account for reductions in intrastate switched access charges pursuant to subsection (c) of Code Section 46-5-166.
- Nothing in this subsection shall require any Tier 2 local exchange company to raise any of its rates. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize any Tier 2 local exchange company to receive any subsidy from the Universal Access Fund. For purposes of this subsection, the term "subsidy" means any payment authorized by paragraph (2) of this subsection in excess of the intrastate access charge reductions pursuant to subsection (c) of Code Section 46-5-166.
- After notice and opportunity for hearing, the commission shall determine the amount of moneys in the fund that shall be distributed quarterly. Such determination shall be made as follows:
- Distributions to carriers that have reduced intrastate switched access charges pursuant to subsection (c) of Code Section 46-5-166 shall be limited to an amount reflective of such access charge reductions and shall also be reduced by the amount per access line, which if added to the carrier's basic local exchange service rate, in accordance with a schedule established by the commission, results in an amount that would be equal to 110 percent of the July 1, 2009, residential state-wide weighted average rate for basic local exchange services imputed across all access lines and adjusted annually for inflation measured by the change in GDP-PI. Any distributions pursuant to this subparagraph shall be limited to a period of no more than ten years; and
- Except for those distributions to Tier 2 local exchange companies that have reduced intrastate switched access charges pursuant to subsection (c) of Code Section 46-5-166, distributions to a Tier 2 local exchange carrier subject to rate of return regulation shall also be reduced by the amount per access line, which if added to the carrier's basic local exchange service rate, in accordance with a schedule established by the commission, results in an amount that would be equal to 110 percent of the July 1, 2009, residential state-wide weighted average rate for basic local exchange services imputed across all access lines and adjusted annually for inflation measured by the change in GDP-PI. The commission shall determine any such distributions upon application, demonstration, and good cause shown that the reasonable actual costs to provide basic local exchange services exceed the maximum fixed price permitted for such basic local exchange services; any distributions pursuant to this subparagraph shall be limited to a period of no more than 20 years.
- The commission shall require any local exchange company seeking reimbursement from the fund pursuant to subparagraph (d)(2)(B) of this Code section to file the information reasonably necessary to determine the actual and reasonable costs of providing basic local exchange services.
- The commission shall have the authority to make adjustments to the contribution or distribution levels based on yearly reconciliations and to order further contributions or distributions as needed between companies to equalize reasonably the burdens of providing basic local exchange service throughout Georgia.
- A local exchange company or other company shall not establish a surcharge on customers' bills to collect contributions required under this Code section without first submitting to the Public Service Commission the methodology and data used by such company for approval by the commission and upon a showing to the commission that the surcharge does not result in an increase in the company's service rates; provided, however, that such company shall not be required to submit for approval separate line items or surcharges that are specifically authorized or required by federal law or other provisions of state law.
(Code 1981, §46-5-167, enacted by Ga. L. 1995, p. 886, § 2; Ga. L. 2010, p. 1135, § 4/HB 168; Ga. L. 2012, p. 674, § 1/HB 332.)
The 2010 amendment, effective June 4, 2010, rewrote this Code section.
The 2012 amendment, effective January 1, 2013, in subsection (g), deleted "from customers'" following "bills to collect" and added the language beginning "without first submitting" and ending with "provisions of state law" at the end.Editor's notes.
- Ga. L. 2010, p. 1135, § 1, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "It is the intent of the General Assembly to:
"(1) Update and modernize Georgia's telecommunications laws to encourage competition and bring about lower prices and better services for the consumer;
"(2) Make Georgia a more attractive place for telecommunications investment and encourage the deployment of advanced technologies;
"(3) Create and preserve jobs for Georgia workers; and
"(4) Reduce the subsidies paid by Georgia consumers.
"It is not the intent of the General Assembly to impose any fee or other charge on Georgia consumers."
Ga. L. 2010, p. 1135, § 2, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "This Act shall be known as and may be cited as the 'Telecom Jobs and Investment Act.'"