66 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 3019 - Additional Powers And Duties

§ 3019. Additional powers and duties.

(a) General rule.--The commission may certify more than one telecommunications carrier to provide local exchange telecommunications service in a specific geographic location. The certification shall be granted upon a showing that it is in the public interest and that the applicant possesses sufficient technical, financial and managerial resources.

(b) Powers and duties retained.--The commission shall retain the following powers and duties relating to the regulation of all telecommunications carriers and interexchange telecommunications carriers, including the power to seek information necessary to facilitate the exercise of these powers and duties:

(1) To audit the accounting and reporting systems of telecommunications carriers relating to their transactions with affiliates pursuant to Chapter 21 (relating to relations with affiliated interests). A telecommunications carrier shall file affiliated interest and affiliated transaction agreements unless such agreements involve services declared to be competitive. The filings shall constitute notice to the commission only and shall not require approval by the commission.

(2) To review and revise quality of service standards contained in 52 Pa. Code (relating to public utilities) that address the safety, adequacy, reliability and privacy of telecommunications services and the ordering, installation, suspension, termination and restoration of any telecommunications service. Any review or revision shall take into consideration the emergence of new industry participants, technological advancements, service standards and consumer demand.

(3) Subject to the provisions of section 3015(e) (relating to alternative forms of regulation), to establish such additional requirements as are consistent with this chapter as the commission determines to be necessary to ensure the protection of customers.

(4) To condition the sale, merger, acquisition or other transaction required to be approved under section 1102(a)(3) (relating to enumeration of acts requiring certificate) of a local exchange telecommunications company or any facilities used to provide telecommunications services to ensure that there is no reduction in the advanced service or broadband deployment obligations for the affected property or facilities.

(c) (Reserved).

(d) Privacy of customer information.--

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, a telecommunications carrier may not disclose to any person information relating to any customer's patterns of use, equipment and network information and any accumulated records about customers with the exception of name, address and telephone number.

(2) A telecommunications carrier may disclose such information:

(i) Pursuant to a court order or where otherwise required by Federal or State law.

(ii) To the carrier's affiliates, agents, contractors or vendors and other telecommunications carriers or interexchange telecommunications carriers as permitted by Federal or State law.

(iii) Where the information consists of aggregate data which does not identify individual customers.

(e) Unreasonable preferences.--Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit the authority of the commission to ensure that local exchange telecommunications companies do not make or impose unreasonable preferences, discriminations or classifications for protected services and other noncompetitive services.

(f) Lifeline service.--

(1) All eligible telecommunications carriers certificated to provide local exchange telecommunications service shall provide Lifeline service to all eligible telecommunications customers who subscribe to such service.

(2) All eligible telecommunications customers who subscribe to Lifeline service shall be permitted to subscribe to any number of other eligible telecommunications carrier telecommunications services at the tariffed rates for such services.

(3) Whenever a prospective customer seeks to subscribe to local exchange telecommunications service from an eligible telecommunications carrier, the carrier shall explicitly advise the customer of the availability of Lifeline service and shall make reasonable efforts where appropriate to determine whether the customer qualifies for such service and, if so, whether the customer wishes to subscribe to the service.

(4) Eligible telecommunications carriers shall inform existing customers of the availability of Lifeline service twice annually by bill insert or message. The notice shall be conspicuous and shall provide appropriate eligibility, benefits and contact information for customers who wish to learn of the Lifeline service subscription requirements.

(5) When a person enrolls in a low-income program administered by the Department of Public Welfare that qualifies the person for Lifeline service, the Department of Public Welfare shall automatically notify that person at the time of enrollment of his or her eligibility for Lifeline service. This notification also shall provide information about Lifeline service, including a telephone number of and Lifeline subscription form for the person's current eligible telecommunications carrier or, if the person does not have telephone service, telephone numbers of eligible telecommunications carriers serving the person's area that the person can call to obtain Lifeline service. Eligible telecommunications carriers shall provide the Department of Public Welfare with Lifeline service descriptions and subscription forms, contact telephone numbers and a listing of the geographic area or areas they serve, for use by the Department of Public Welfare in providing the notifications required by this paragraph.

(6) No eligible telecommunications carrier shall be required to provide after the effective date of this section any new Lifeline service discount that is not fully subsidized by the Federal Universal Service Fund.

(g) Method for fixing rates.--The commission may not fix or prescribe the rates, tolls, charges, rate structures, rate base, rate of return or earnings of competitive services or otherwise regulate competitive services except as set forth in this chapter.

(h) Implementation.--The terms of a local exchange telecommunications company's alternative form of regulation and network modernization plans shall govern the regulation of the local exchange telecommunications company and, consistent with the provisions of this chapter, shall supersede any conflicting provisions of this title or other laws of this Commonwealth and shall specifically supersede all provisions of Chapter 13 (relating to rates and rate making) other than sections 1301 (relating to rates to be just and reasonable), 1302 (relating to tariffs; filing and inspection), 1303 (relating to adherence to tariffs), 1304 (relating to discrimination in rates), 1305 (relating to advance payment of rates; interest on deposits), 1309 (relating to rates fixed on complaint; investigation of costs of production) and 1312 (relating to refunds).

(i) Protection of employees.--

(1) No telecommunications carrier may discharge, threaten, discriminate or retaliate against an employee because the employee made a good faith report to the commission, the Office of Consumer Advocate or the Office of Attorney General regarding wrongdoing, waste or a potential violation of the commission's orders or regulations or of this title.

(2) A person who alleges a violation of this section must bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction for appropriate injunctive relief or damages within 180 days after the occurrence of the alleged violation. The evidentiary burdens upon such person and the person's telecommunications carrier in such action shall be as set forth in section 3316(d) and (e) (relating to protection of public utility employees), provided, however, that upon an employee's meeting the employee's burden of proof under section 3316(d), a rebuttable presumption shall arise that the alleged reprisal by the employer constitutes a violation of this section.

(Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1398, No.183, eff. imd.)

2004 Amendment. Act 183 added section 3019.

References in Text. The Department of Public Welfare, referred to in this section, was redesignated as the Department of Human Services by Act 132 of 2014.

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Last modified: October 8, 2016