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TITLE 16ECONOMIC REGULATION
PART 2PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION OF TEXAS
CHAPTER 26SUBSTANTIVE RULES APPLICABLE TO TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE PROVIDERS
SUBCHAPTER JCOSTS, RATES AND TARIFFS
RULE §26.219Administration of Expanded Local Calling Service Requests

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to describe the process used to administer requests from telephone service subscribers for two-way toll-free expanded local calling service (ELCS) pursuant to the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA), Chapter 55, Subchapter C. Only incumbent local exchange companies (ILECs) are subject to the provisions of PURA, Chapter 55, Subchapter C. On or after September 1, 2011, the commission may not require a telecommunications provider to provide mandatory or optional expanded local calling services to additional metropolitan areas or calling areas.

(b) Definitions. The following terms, when used in this section, have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

  (1) Expanded local calling service (ELCS)--The meaning assigned in §26.221 of this title (relating to Applications to Establish or Increase Expanded Local Calling Service Surcharges).

  (2) Expanded local calling service (ELCS) fee--The meaning assigned in §26.221 of this title.

  (3) Expanded local calling service (ELCS) surcharge--The meaning assigned in §26.221 of this title.

  (4) Metropolitan exchange--The meaning assigned in PURA §55.041, including Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Waco.

(c) ELCS requests, notice and intervention.

  (1) Filing a request for ELCS. Telephone subscribers in an exchange that has 10,000 or fewer access lines are eligible to request ELCS from the commission by filing information listed in paragraph (2) of this subsection. The request shall be assigned a project number. A presiding officer shall be assigned to the project and the request shall be reviewed administratively unless the presiding officer, for good cause, determines at any point during the review that the request should be docketed. A request from telephone subscribers in an exchange that has more than 10,000 access lines shall be dismissed by the presiding officer within 20 days of the date the request is filed.

  (2) Contents of a request for ELCS.

    (A) Filing letter. A request for ELCS shall include a letter that designates a contact person to respond to inquiries about the request for ELCS. The name, address, and daytime telephone number of the contact person shall be identified in the letter. The letter shall be sent with all other parts of the request to the commission's Filing Clerk.

    (B) Community of interest statement. If the petitioning and petitioned exchanges do not meet the geographic proximity requirement set forth in subsection (d)(3)(C) of this section, the request for ELCS shall contain a statement describing the community of interest between the petitioning and petitioned exchanges, based upon standards in subsection (d)(3)(D) of this section. The statement must describe the existence of a community of interest between the petitioning exchange and each petitioned exchange in sufficient detail to allow for verification of assertions made.

    (C) Statement of changed circumstances. If subscribers in the petitioning exchange denied by ballot a petition for ELCS to any one or more of the same petitioned exchange(s) within the previous 18 months, the new request shall contain a statement explaining what circumstances have changed since the time of the prior ballot that materially affect the need for ELCS between the petitioning exchange and each petitioned exchange. A petition is denied by ballot if it fails to receive an affirmative vote of at least 70% of the voting subscribers in the petitioning exchange.

    (D) Petition. A request for ELCS shall include a petition. A petition may request ELCS between a single petitioning exchange and one or more petitioned exchanges. A petition shall be signed by at least 100 subscribers or 5.0% of subscribers in the petitioning exchange, whichever is less. Each signatory shall include his or her name and telephone number on the petition. Each signature page of the petition for ELCS shall include:

      (i) the name and telephone number of a petition coordinator, whom signatories may contact for further information about the petition;

      (ii) the name, area code and prefix of the exchange from which the petitioners receive telephone service (the petitioning exchange);

      (iii) the name, area code and prefix(es) of exchange(s) to which ELCS is sought (the petitioned exchange(s));

      (iv) a clear statement that only subscribers in the petitioning exchange may sign the petition;

      (v) a clear statement that subscribers in the petitioning exchange will be billed a monthly ELCS fee of up to $3.50 per residential line and $7.00 per business line for the first five petitioned exchanges granted, with an additional $1.50 per line for each exchange in excess of five, whether obtained in one or more petitions, in addition to basic local exchange service rates;

      (vi) a clear statement that there must be an affirmative vote of at least 70% of those subscribers responding within the petitioning exchange as to each petitioned exchange before ELCS can be implemented to that petitioned exchange; and

      (vii) a clear statement that, in addition to ELCS fees billed to petitioning subscribers, an ELCS surcharge may, if necessary, be billed to that ILEC's Texas customers to recover the costs of implementing ELCS.

  (3) Notice to affected ILECs. Within five working days of receipt by the commission of a filed request for ELCS, the commission shall send a copy of the request by certified mail to each ILEC serving either a petitioning or a petitioned telephone exchange.

  (4) Notice to affected telephone service subscribers. An ILEC serving a petitioning exchange shall arrange for publication of notice in the petitioning exchange and shall bear the cost of notice as a regulatory case expense. This notice shall be published once, not later than 15 days before ballots are mailed in accordance with subsection (f) of this section, in each local newspaper in the petitioning exchange. The information contained in subsection (f)(2)(A) - (D) and (F) of this section shall be published. Published notice shall identify the assigned project number, shall include the language in Procedural Rule §22.51(a)(1)(F) of this title (relating to Notice for Public Utility Regulatory Act, Chapter 36, Subchapter C-E, Chapter 51, §51.009; and Chapter 53, Subchapters C-E Proceedings) modified to reflect the appropriate intervention deadline and shall be written in both English and Spanish. Additionally, the presiding officer shall cause notice to be published in the Texas Register no later than 15 days before ballots are mailed.

  (5) Intervention. The intervention deadline shall be no sooner than ten days after the last date notice is published in the petitioning exchange. On or before the intervention deadline stated in the published notice, any interested person may file a request to intervene in the project. The presiding officer shall rule on a request to intervene in accordance with Procedural Rule §22.103 of this title (relating to Standing to Intervene) within ten days from the date the request to intervene is filed with the commission's Filing Clerk. Intervention by an interested person does not by itself require that the project be docketed.

(d) Initial review of a request for ELCS.

  (1) Sufficiency. The presiding officer shall, by order issued within 15 days of the filing of a request for ELCS, determine if the request is sufficient as to the requirements in subsection (c)(2) of this section. If the presiding officer finds that the request is deficient, the presiding officer shall notify the designated contact person so that the contact person may cure any such deficiencies. Deficiencies in the request for ELCS may be cured within 30 days of its initial filing. If not cured by the subsequent filing of sufficient information within that time, the presiding officer shall dismiss the request in whole, if appropriate, or in relevant part, without prejudice to the filing of another request involving the same petitioning and petitioned exchanges.

  (2) Changed Circumstances. The presiding officer shall, by order issued no later than 15 days after the filing of the request for ELCS, determine whether a statement of changed circumstances required by subsection (c)(2)(C) of this section justifies allowing another ballot sooner than 18 months after the denial by ballot of a prior petition involving the same petitioning and petitioned exchanges. If the presiding officer finds that the statement does not justify allowing another ballot, the presiding officer shall dismiss the request in whole, if appropriate, or in relevant part.

  (3) Geographic proximity or community of interest.

    (A) Distance limitation. ELCS is not available where the most distant central switching offices in a petitioning and petitioned exchange are more than 50 miles apart as measured by using vertical and horizontal (V&H) geographic coordinates.

    (B) Determination. The presiding officer shall, by order issued no later than 15 days after the request for ELCS is filed, determine whether the request satisfies either the geographic proximity requirement set forth in subparagraph (C) of this paragraph or the community of interest requirement set forth in subparagraph (D) of this paragraph. If the presiding officer determines that neither the geographic proximity nor the community of interest requirements are satisfied, the presiding officer shall dismiss the request in whole, if appropriate, or in relevant part.

    (C) Geographic proximity. The geographic proximity requirement is satisfied as to each petitioned exchange if the nearest central switching office in the petitioning exchange is located within 22 miles of the nearest central switching office in the petitioned exchange as measured using vertical and horizontal (V&H) geographic coordinates.

    (D) Community of interest. A community of interest statement shall address situations where the nearest central switching offices in a petitioning and petitioned exchange are more than 22 miles apart and the most distant central offices in a petitioning and petitioned exchange are 50 or less miles apart. A community of interest between a petitioning exchange and a petitioned exchange exists, for purposes of this section, when the community of interest statement includes information demonstrating that the petitioning and petitioned exchanges have a relationship because of schools, hospitals, local governments, or business centers, or that the petitioning or petitioned exchanges have other relationships that make the unavailability of ELCS a hardship on residents of the area.

(e) Exemptions.

  (1) ILEC requests for exemption. An ILEC serving either the petitioning or the petitioned exchange may file a request for exemption from the potential requirement to provide ELCS. Such requests must be filed no later than 20 days after the filing of the request for ELCS. The request for exemption shall be accompanied by an affidavit identifying in detail which conditions described in paragraph (2) of this subsection exist. If the petition includes more than one petitioned exchange, the request for exemption shall clearly identify which conditions apply to which exchanges. The presiding officer shall look to facts or circumstances existing on the date the ELCS request is filed in determining whether a request for exemption may be granted.

  (2) Types of exemptions. The following conditions shall be considered by the presiding officer in determining whether to exempt an ILEC from being required to provide ELCS:

    (A) the ILEC serves fewer than 10,000 access lines statewide; or

    (B) the petitioning or petitioned exchange is served by a telephone cooperative; or

    (C) extended area service (EAS) or extended metropolitan service is currently available between the petitioning exchange and the petitioned exchange(s); or

    (D) the petitioning or petitioned exchange is a metropolitan exchange as defined in subsection (b) of this section; or

    (E) it is technologically or geographically infeasible to provide ELCS to the area; or,

    (F) the request for ELCS proposes to split a petitioning or petitioned exchange.

  (3) Determination. If one or more of the conditions described in paragraph (2)(A) - (D) or (2)(F) of this subsection exist, the presiding officer shall, within 40 days after the filing of the request for ELCS, dismiss the request in whole, if appropriate, or in relevant part. If the ILEC requests an exemption based on paragraph (2)(E) of this subsection, the presiding officer shall, by order issued no later than 40 days after the filing of the request for ELCS, determine whether the ILEC's affidavit sufficiently demonstrates that technology is not available in the marketplace to make ELCS feasible. If the exemption request is granted, the presiding officer shall dismiss the request for ELCS in whole, if appropriate, or in relevant part.

(f) Balloting. If all applicable requirements contained in subsections (c) and (d) of this section are met and no exemption requests are outstanding, the presiding officer shall issue an order directing the ILEC serving the petitioning exchange to begin balloting subscribers in that exchange, and the presiding officer shall notify the designated contact person for the petitioning exchange that balloting will take place.

  (1) Cost of balloting. The cost of preparing and distributing ballots shall be borne by the ILEC serving the petitioning exchange as a regulatory case expense.

Cont'd...

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