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TITLE 16ECONOMIC REGULATION
PART 2PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION OF TEXAS
CHAPTER 26SUBSTANTIVE RULES APPLICABLE TO TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE PROVIDERS
SUBCHAPTER PTEXAS UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND
RULE §26.420Administration of Texas Universal Service Fund (TUSF)

        (IV) a detailed description of the safe-harbor percentage that is requested and how it will be applied;

        (V) if applicable, a compliance tariff filing pursuant to paragraph (6)(C) of this subsection; and

        (VI) any other information that the telecommunications provider believes will aid in rendering of a decision.

      (ii) If a telecommunications provider requests a permanent waiver from reporting its TUSF assessment based on actual intrastate telecommunications services receipts, then the telecommunications provider must file a waiver containing all elements in clause (i) of this subparagraph, as well as an explanation detailing why a permanent waiver is required, and why it is in the public interest.

      (iii) A telecommunications provider that has been granted a waiver shall apply, for the duration of that waiver, a safe-harbor percentage to its telecommunications services receipts using one of the methods described in subclauses (I) or (II) of this clause as follows:

        (I) If a telecommunications provider is reporting interstate communications and international communications revenues for assessment for the federal universal service fund based on an FCC safe-harbor percentage, then the telecommunications provider shall apply the inverse of that percentage to its telecommunications services receipts as reported under Chapter 151 of the Texas Tax Code. The resulting total will be the telecommunications provider's safe-harbor-calculated total intrastate telecommunications services receipts to which the TUSF assessment rate shall apply pursuant to paragraph (4) of this subsection.

        (II) If a telecommunications provider is not using an FCC safe-harbor percentage, the telecommunications provider shall apply a commission-ordered safe harbor percentage to its telecommunications services receipts under Chapter 151 of the Texas Tax Code as described in its waiver request approved by the commission. The resulting total will be the telecommunications provider's safe-harbor-calculated intrastate telecommunications services receipts to which the TUSF assessment rate shall apply pursuant to paragraph (4) of this subsection.

      (iv) If a telecommunications provider that has been granted a waiver seeks to change its safe-harbor assessment methodology, or seeks an extension of its existing waiver, it must file another waiver request with the commission.

      (v) A telecommunications provider may, at any time during the duration of its waiver and upon notice to the commission and the TUSF administrator, change its methodology to assess actual intrastate telecommunications services receipts. This will terminate any existing waiver.

    (C) De minimus exemption. A telecommunications provider that is unable to calculate actual intrastate telecommunications services receipts by January 1, 2007, and whose TUSF assessment is less than $500 per month using the relevant commission-ordered safe-harbor percentage, is not required to file a waiver request pursuant to subparagraph (B) of this paragraph.

    (D) Intrastate telecommunications services receipts received by telecommunications providers from telecommunications services supplied to pay telephone providers for the provision of pay telephone services are subject to TUSF assessment.

  (4) Assessment. Each telecommunications provider shall pay its TUSF assessment each month by multiplying the commission-approved assessment rate by the basis for assessments as determined pursuant to paragraph (3) of this subsection.

  (5) Reporting requirements. Each telecommunications provider shall report its taxable intrastate telecommunications services receipts under Chapter 151 of the Tax Code to the commission or the TUSF administrator. When reporting its intrastate telecommunications services receipts, each telecommunications provider shall report its total taxable telecommunications services receipts under Chapter 151 of the Tax Code, and indicate which methodology or methodologies (i.e., actual and/or commission-ordered safe-harbor percentage) it used to arrive at its total intrastate telecommunications services receipts.

  (6) Recovery of assessments. A telecommunications provider may recover the amount of its TUSF assessment based on its intrastate telecommunications services receipts from its retail customers who are subject to tax under Chapter 151 of the Texas Tax Code, except for Lifeline and/or Link Up services. For purposes of the recovery of the TUSF assessment, pay telephone providers are considered retail customers subject to Chapter 151 of the Texas Tax Code. The commission may order modifications in a telecommunications provider's method of recovery.

    (A) Retail customers' bills. In the event a telecommunications provider chooses to recover its TUSF assessment through a surcharge added to its retail customers' bills:

      (i) the surcharge must be listed on the retail customers' bills as "Texas Universal Service"; and

      (ii) the surcharge must be assessed as a percentage of intrastate telecommunications services receipts on every retail customers' bill, except Lifeline and/or Link Up services.

    (B) Commission approval of surcharge mechanism. An ILEC choosing to recover the TUSF assessment through a surcharge on its retail customers' bills must file for commission approval of the surcharge mechanism.

    (C) Tariff and/or price sheet changes. A certificated telecommunications utility choosing to recover the TUSF assessment through a surcharge on its retail customers' bills shall file the appropriate changes as necessary to its tariff and/or price sheet and provide supporting documentation for the method of recovery.

    (D) Recovery period. A single universal service fund surcharge shall not recover more than one month of assessments.

  (7) Disputing assessments. Any telecommunications provider may dispute the amount of its TUSF assessment. The telecommunications provider should endeavor to first resolve the dispute with the TUSF administrator. If the telecommunications provider and the TUSF administrator are unable to satisfactorily resolve their dispute, either party may petition the commission to resolve the dispute. Pending final resolution of disputed TUSF assessment rates and/or amounts, the disputing telecommunications provider shall remit all undisputed amounts to the TUSF administrator by the due date.

(g) Disbursements from the TUSF to ETPs, ILECs, other entities and agencies.

  (1) ETPs, ILECs, other entities, and agencies.

    (A) ETPs. The commission shall determine whether an ETP qualifies to receive funds from the TUSF. An ETP qualifying for the following programs is eligible to receive funds from the TUSF:

      (i) Texas High Cost Universal Service Plan;

      (ii) Small and Rural ILEC Universal Service Plan; and/or

      (iii) Lifeline Service and Link Up Service.

    (B) ILECs. The commission shall determine whether an ILEC qualifies to receive support from the following TUSF programs:

      (i) Implementation of the Public Utility Regulatory Act §56.025; and/or

      (ii) Additional Financial Assistance program.

    (C) Other entities. The commission shall determine whether other entities qualify to receive funds from the TUSF. Entities qualifying for the following programs are eligible to receive funds from the TUSF:

      (i) Telecommunications Relay Service;

      (ii) Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program; and/or

      (iii) Audio Newspaper Assistance Program.

    (D) Agencies. The commission, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, and the TUSF administrator are eligible for reimbursement of the costs directly and reasonably associated with the implementation of the provisions of PURA Chapters 56 and 57.

  (2) Reporting requirements.

    (A) ETPs. An ETP shall report to the TUSF administrator as required by the provisions of the section or sections under which it qualifies to receive funds from the TUSF.

    (B) Other entities. A qualifying entity shall report to the TUSF administrator as required by the provisions of the section or sections under which it qualifies to receive funds from the TUSF.

    (C) Agencies. A qualifying agency shall report its qualifying expenses to the TUSF administrator each month.

  (3) Disbursements.

    (A) The TUSF administrator shall verify that the appropriate information has been provided by each ETP, local exchange company (LEC), other entities or agencies and shall issue disbursements to ETPs, LECs, other entities and agencies within 45 days of the due date of their reports except as otherwise provided.

    (B) Prior to August 31, 2007, if an electing LEC, as defined in §26.5 of this title (relating to Definitions), reduces rates in conjunction with receiving disbursements from the TUSF, the commission may not reduce the amount of those disbursements below the initial level of disbursements upon implementation of the TUSF, except that:

      (i) if a local end user customer of the electing company switches to another local service provider that serves the customer entirely through the use of its own facilities and not partially or solely through the use of unbundled network elements, the electing LEC's disbursement may be reduced by the amount attributable to that customer under PURA §56.021(1); or

      (ii) if a local end user customer of the electing company switches to another local service provider, and the new local service provider serves the customer partially or solely through the use of unbundled network elements provided by the electing LEC, the electing LEC's disbursement attributable to that customer under PURA §56.021(1) may be reduced according to the commission established equitable allocation formula for the disbursement as described in §26.403(e)(3)(C) of this title (relating to Texas High Cost Universal Service Plan (THCUSP)).

    (C) The commission may adjust disbursements from the universal service fund to companies using technologies other than traditional wireline or landline technologies to meet provider of last resort obligations.

(h) True-up. The assessment amount determined pursuant to subsections (e) and (f) of this section shall be subject to true-up as determined by the TUSF administrator and approved by the commission. True-ups shall be limited to a three year period for under-reporting and a one year period for over-reporting.

(i) Sale or transfer of exchanges.

  (1) An ETP that acquires exchanges from an unaffiliated small or rural ILEC receiving support for those exchanges pursuant to §26.404 of this title, shall receive the per-line support amount for which those exchanges were eligible prior to the sale or transfer.

  (2) An ETP that acquires exchanges from an unaffiliated ETP receiving support for those exchanges pursuant to §26.403 of this title, shall receive the per-line support amount for which those exchanges were eligible prior to the transfer of the exchanges.

(j) Proprietary information. The commission and the TUSF administrator are subject to the Texas Open Records Act, Texas Government Code, Chapter 552. Information received by the TUSF administrator from the individual telecommunications providers shall be treated as proprietary only under the following circumstances:

  (1) An individual telecommunications provider who submits information to the TUSF administrator shall be responsible for designating it as proprietary at the time of submission. Information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision, may be properly designated as proprietary.

  (2) An individual telecommunications provider who submits information designated as proprietary shall stamp on the face of such information "PROPRIETARY PURSUANT TO PUC SUBST. R. §26.420(j)".

  (3) The TUSF administrator may disclose all information from an individual telecommunications provider to the telecommunications provider who submitted it or to the commission and its designated representatives without notifying the telecommunications provider.

  (4) All third party requests for information shall be directed through the commission. If the commission or the TUSF administrator receives a third party request for information that a telecommunications provider has designated proprietary, the commission shall notify the telecommunications provider. If the telecommunications provider does not voluntarily waive the proprietary designation, the commission shall submit the request and the responsive information to the Office of the Attorney General for an opinion regarding disclosure pursuant to the Texas Open Records Act, Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, Subchapter G.


Source Note: The provisions of this §26.420 adopted to be effective August 10, 1999, 24 TexReg 6035; amended to be effective October 4, 2001, 26 TexReg 7530; amended to be effective June 17, 2002, 27 TexReg 5201; amended to be effective November 27, 2002, 27 TexReg 10915; amended to be effective July 20, 2006, 31 TexReg 5616; amended to be effective November 19, 2006, 31 TexReg 9285; amended to be effective April 7, 2014, 39 TexReg 2499; amended to be effective November 7, 2017, 42 TexReg 6143

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