(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 :-
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 :-
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.