Advanced Voice Services Availability Act of 2007

Advanced Voice Services Availability Act of 2007

Summary

The purpose of this legislation is to promote the availability of competitive advanced voice services, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, to all consumers and businesses in [state] by establishing a common-sense regulatory framework that promotes choice and competition.

Model Legislation

Section 1. {Title} This bill may be referred to as the Advanced Voice Services Availability Act of 2007.

Section 2. {Purpose} The purpose of this legislation is to promote the availability of competitive advanced voice services, such as Voice over Internet Protocol services, to all consumers and businesses in [state] by establishing a framework that promotes customer choice and competition.

Section 3. {Definitions} As used in this Act:

(a) The term “Voice over Internet Protocol services” or “VoIP services” means services that

(1) Enable voice communications;

(2) Utilize a broadband connection from the user’s location; and

(3) originate or terminate from the user’s location in Internet Protocol or any successor protocol, including but not limited to “Interconnected VoIP services” as defined below;

(b) (1) The term “Interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol services” or “Interconnected VoIP services” means services that

(i) Enable real-time, two-way voice communications;

(ii) Require a broadband connection from the user’s location;

(iii) Utilize Internet Protocol (IP)-compatible customer premises equipment; and

(iv) Permit users generally to receive calls from and terminate calls to the Public Switched Telephone Network.

Section 4. {Promoting the Availability of Retail VoIP Services}

(A) The Public [Service/Utility] Commission shall have no authority to regulate the rates, terms, or conditions on which any entity offers any VoIP service to end user customers in [state], nor shall it have the authority to regulate any entity’s entry into, or exit from, the business of providing any VoIP service to customers in [state]. Such prohibition shall apply regardless of how VoIP services are classified by the Federal Communications Commission and regardless of the purpose or manner of provisioning such VoIP services.

(B) Notwithstanding the limitation of regulatory authority in Section 4(A), VoIP services shall remain subject to the state’s generally applicable business regulations, antitrust laws, deceptive trade practices, and consumer protection laws, as enforced by the appropriate state authority or through the judicial system.

(C) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to affect the rights and responsibilities conferred on the Public [Service/Utility] Commission by the federal Communications Act of 1934, as amended, including Sections 251 and 252.

(D) Any decision of the Public [Service/Utility] Commission inconsistent with this section is hereby preempted and rendered invalid.

(E) Nothing proposed in this section shall be construed to either mandate or prohibit the payment of any switched network access rates or other intercarrier compensation rates that may be determined to apply.

Section 5. {Limitation on Liability for Acts in the Provision of Emergency Services} A provider of Interconnected VoIP services and its officers, directors, employees, vendors, affiliates, and agents shall have immunity or other protection from liability of a scope and extent that is not less than the scope and extent of immunity or other protection from liability that an incumbent local exchange company, and its officers, directors, employees, vendors, or agents have in this state under federal and state law (whether through statute, judicial decision, tariffs filed by such local exchange company, or otherwise), including in connection with an act or omission involving a network outage or other network failure during which an emergency call fails to complete, or in connection with the release of subscriber information related to emergency calls or emergency service to a public service answering point, emergency medical service provider or emergency dispatch provider, public safety, fire service or law enforcement official, or hospital emergency or trauma care facility.

Section 6. {Limitation on 911-Related Fees, Taxes or Surcharges}

(A) No state agency or authority and no political subdivision of this state may impose any 911-related fee, tax, or surcharge on a provider of interconnected VoIP services or its customers unless the same or equivalent fee, tax or surcharge is also imposed by such agency, authority or subdivision on a provider of telecommunications services or its customers in the same or equivalent fashion.

(B) A provider of Interconnected VoIP services shall collect any such 911-related fee or surcharge that is imposed on its end user customers and may collect from its end user customers any such 911-related fee, tax, or surcharge that is imposed on the provider, and may identify any such 911-related fee, tax, or surcharge and its amount as a separate line item on the end user customer’s bill.

(C) There should be no double assessment of 911-related fees, taxes or surcharges. To the extent that any such fee, tax, or surcharge is imposed on any provider of telecommunications services or other entity that furnishes a provider of Interconnected VoIP services with connectivity to the public switched telephone network or a public safety answering point, such fee, tax, or surcharge may not be imposed directly or indirectly on the provider of Interconnected VoIP services.

Section 8. {Promoting Innovation in Internet Services} The Public Service/Utility Commission shall not regulate or have jurisdiction over any services with a voice component that are not classified as of September 1, 2007 by the FCC or in the Communications Act of 1934 as a telecommunications service or as Interconnected VoIP.

Section 9. {Severability clause.}

Section 10. {Repealer clause.}

Section 11. {Effective date.}

Keyword Tags: Broadband, Communications and Technology Task Force, Competition, Internet, Regulation