The State Universal Communications Services Program (Program) was established in 2014 to provide temporary support to Washington's smaller incumbent telephone companies. The Program originally expired in 2019, but was extended and now expires June 30, 2024.
The Program supports continued provision of basic telecommunication services under rates, terms, and conditions established by the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) and the provision, enhancement, and maintenance of broadband services. Under the Program, eligible communications providers may receive distributions from the Program in exchange for an agreement to provide continued telecommunications services under the rates, terms, and conditions established by the UTC, and broadband services, for the period covered by the distribution.
A communications provider is eligible to receive distributions from the Program if:
A communications provider other than a provider meeting the criteria above is eligible to receive distributions from the program if the provider:
To receive a distribution from the Program, the eligible communications provider must affirmatively consent to continue providing services to its customers under rates, terms, and conditions established by the UTC for the period covered by the distribution. Distribution amounts to eligible communications providers are based on criteria established by the UTC.
Expenditures from the Program may not exceed $5 million per fiscal year. If less than $5 million is expended in any fiscal year, the unexpended portion must be carried over to subsequent fiscal years and be available for program expenditures in subsequent fiscal years in addition to the $5 million allotted for each of the subsequent fiscal years. The Program is funded from amounts deposited by the Legislature into the Universal Communications Services Account. The UTC must operate the Program within amounts appropriated.
The termination date of the Program is changed from June 30, 2024, to June 30, 2034.