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Section 254 - Universal Service

SEC. 254. [47 U.S.C. 254] UNIVERSAL SERVICE.

(a) PROCEDURES TO REVIEW UNIVERSAL SERVICE REQUIREMENTS.
  • FEDERAL-STATE JOINT BOARD ON UNIVERSAL SERVICE :-
    Within one month after the date of enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Commission shall institute and refer to a Federal-State Joint Board under section 410(c) a proceeding to recommend changes to any of its regulations in order to implement sections 214(e) and this section, including the definition of the services that are supported by Federal universal service support mechanisms and a specific timetable for completion of such recommendations. In addition to the members of the Joint Board required under section 410(c), one member of such Joint Board shall be a State-appointed utility consumer advocate nominated by a national organization of State utility consumer advocates. The Joint Board shall, after notice and opportunity for public comment, make its recommendations to the Commission 9 months after the date of enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
  • COMMISSION ACTION :- The Commission shall initiate a single proceeding to implement the recommendations from the Joint Board required by paragraph (1) and shall complete such proceeding within 15 months after the date of enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The rules established by such proceeding shall include a definition of the services that are supported by Federal universal service support mechanisms and a specific timetable for implementation. Thereafter, the Commission shall complete any proceeding to implement subsequent recommendations from any Joint Board on universal service within one year after receiving such recommendations.
(b) UNIVERSAL SERVICE PRINCIPLES. The Joint Board and the Commission shall base policies for the preservation and advancement of universal service on the following principles:
  • QUALITY AND RATES :- Quality services should be available at just, reasonable, and affordable rates.
  • ACCESS TO ADVANCED SERVICES :- Access to advanced telecommunications and information services should be provided in all regions of the Nation.
  • ACCESS IN RURAL AND HIGH COST AREAS :- Consumers in all regions of the Nation, including low-income consumers and those in rural, insular, and high cost areas, should have access to telecommunications and information services, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services, that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas and that are available at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates charged for similar services in urban areas.
  • EQUITABLE AND NONDISCRIMINATORY CONTRIBUTIONS :- All providers of telecommunications services should make an equitable and nondiscriminatory contribution to the preservation and advancement of universal service.
  • SPECIFIC AND PREDICTABLE SUPPORT MECHANISMS :- There should be specific, predictable and sufficient Federal and State mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service.
  • ACCESS TO ADVANCED TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES FOR SCHOOLS, HEALTH CARE, AND LIBRARIES :- Elementary and secondary schools and classrooms, health care providers, and libraries should have access to advanced telecommunications services as described in subsection (h).
  • ADDITIONAL PRINCIPLES :- Such other principles as the Joint Board and the Commission determine are necessary and appropriate for the protection of the public interest, convenience, and necessity and are consistent with this Act.