Utilities and Transportation Commission. The Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) is a three-member commission appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The UTC regulates the rates, services, facilities, and practices of utilities and transportation services.
State Universal Communications Service Program. The state Universal Communications Services Program (program) was established to support the continued provision of basic telecommunications services under rates, terms, and conditions established by the UTC and the provision and enhancement of broadband services.
Under the program, an eligible communications provider (provider) may receive distributions from the Universal Communications Services Account (account). Expenditures for the program may not exceed $5 million. Distributions from the account are based on a formula established by the UTC and may be adjusted as specified if the program does not have sufficient funds to fully fund this formula. To receive a distribution, an eligible provider must affirmatively consent to continue providing communications services to its customers under rates, terms, and conditions established by the UTC for the period covered by the distribution.
A provider is eligible to receive distributions from the account if it:
The UTC must periodically review the accounts and records of any provider that receives distributions under the program to ensure compliance and monitor the use of funds. The UTC must also establish an advisory board to advise it on any rules and policies governing the operations of the program.
The program terminates June 30, 2024, and it expires July 1, 2025.
The program termination date is changed from June 30, 2024, to June 30, 2034. The program expiration date is changed from July 1, 2025, to July 1, 2035.
The committee recommended a different version of the bill than what was heard. PRO: This program supports small companies that provide broadband services in rural areas. Customers need access to broadband for various purposes such as telehealth, economic development, and education. These companies need this program to build out to new locations and maintain current systems. Broadband infrastructure needs upgrades in order to run new software being deployed and to handle increased traffic from residents, hospitals, county and city facilities, schools, and libraries.
PRO: This fund is unique in this state as it helps to expand, upgrade and maintain broadband. The fund has provided broadbands to 4000 locations in rural communities.