Telephone Utilities: Frequently Asked Questions
This is provided as general guidance and is not comprehensive. The full and specific requirements applicable to telephone utilities operating in New Hampshire are set forth in the relevant statutes and in the Puc 400 Rules for Telephone Utilities. In the event of any apparent conflicts, the statutes and rules prevail.
What companies are considered telephone utilities?
Under New Hampshire law, any company or other non-municipal entity that “owns, operates, or manages” equipment for the “conveyance of telephone messages… for the public” is a telephone utility, with three notable limitations:
- Offering cellular phone service does not make a company a public utility.
- Delivering telephone service to customers using Internet Protocol (VoIP or IP-enabled) transport does not make a company a public utility. (This means that cable television providers offering telephone service are not public utilities. See New Hampshire RSA 362:7 for the formal definition of VoIP and IP-enabled communications.)
- Providing wholesale telephone service to other companies, rather than directly “for the public,” does not make a company a public utility.
What companies are considered ELECs?
All New Hampshire telephone utilities except “Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) Not Operating as Excepted Local Exchange Carriers (ELECs)” are considered ELECs. Even ILECs not operating as ELECs must generally follow ELEC rules and file ELEC forms, in addition to the extra rules and forms that apply to them.
How does a company become an ELEC?
Any entity seeking to provide telephone service as a telephone utility must first obtain authorization from the Commission. The entity shall seek authorization by filing Form T-8 Application to Provide Voice Service. Unless the application is denied pursuant to Puc 404.03, the applicant will be provided with a Telephone Utility Identification Number.
Previously authorized companies:
Each entity that was authorized by the Commission prior to March 11, 2014 as an Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC), Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC), Competitive Toll Provider / Inter-Exchange Carrier (CTP), or Payphone Service Provider (PSP) that is providing telephone utility service will be issued a Telephone Utility Identification Number by the Commission. Previously-registered entities offering only VoIP or IP-enabled service, data service, or wholesale service are not operating as telephone utilities and will not be issued Telephone Utility Identification Numbers. Some entities in this situation may choose to register as telecommunications carriers.
What Forms Must an ELEC File Annually?
Each ELEC must file two forms no later than March 31 of each year: a T-1 Contact and Trade Name Information form, and a T-2 Assessment Report. In addition, each ELEC that operated any payphones in New Hampshire at any time during the previous year must file a T-6 Payphone Location Report by March 31. NOTE: the Commission has granted a partial waiver to all telephone utilities applicable to the filing due March 31, 2014. The reports that would otherwise be due on that date must be filed no later than April 30, 2014. The new forms ask for a “Telephone Utility Identification Number if one has been assigned.” Please leave that field blank – the Commission has not assigned any such numbers yet.
Alternatively, the waiver allows a company to file its reports under the old rules, submitting all reports required under those rules by March 31, 2014.
At What Other Times Must a Telephone Utility File Reports?
Telephone utilities are also required to file reports with the Commission when any of the following events occurs:
Change in contact information: Whenever a change occurs in the information an ELEC has previously reported on a T1 form, for example a change in mailing address, telephone number, person listed as a contact for particular functions, or trade name used in New Hampshire, the ELEC shall file a new T1 Contact and Trade Name Information form.
Reportable accident: Whenever a reportable accident, as defined in Puc 402.15, has occurred in connection with the utility’s property or facilities, the utility shall notify the Commission immediately by telephone as described in Puc 404.07, and within ten days shall file a T-3 Utility Accident Report. Fatalities, property damage over $100,000, and closure of a state highway are examples of factors that make an accident reportable under Puc 402.15.
Transfer of customer base: When all or part of a customer base is acquired by sale or transfer to a telephone utility, the acquiring utility shall file a T-4 Transfer of Customer Base Report at least 30 days prior to the transfer. When a telephone utility sells or transfers all or part of its customer base to an entity that is not a telephone utility, the telephone utility shall file a T-4 Transfer of Customer Base Report at least 30 days prior to the transfer. In both cases, the telephone utility shall also file a copy of information submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, as described in Puc 405.03.
Significant facilities disruption: When a telephone utility experiences a significant outage of its facilities as described in Puc 402.18 (generally, an outage that is so significant that it must also be reported to the Federal Communications Commission), the telephone utility shall notify the Commission by e-mail within 120 minutes. The e-mail shall be sent to the address TelOutages@puc.nh.gov from an address which accepts replies from the Commission. The telephone utility shall also file a Form T-5 Facility Disruption Report within ten days.
Entering an exchange: When a telephone utility first becomes eligible to provide service in an exchange, for example because it has constructed or leased lines in the exchange, and it requests telephone numbers to serve the exchange, it shall file a Form T-7 Exchange Eligibility Report.
Offering voice service in a new area: When an entity plans to offer voice service as a telephone utility where it is not authorized to provide such service, it shall file a Form T-8 Application for Registration to Provide Voice Service. Note that this requirement is triggered when an entity first starts operating as a telephone utility in New Hampshire, or when a telephone utility seeks to expand into areas where it is not yet authorized. Also note that no filing is required for telephone service delivered using IP, since that is not considered a telephone utility service.
What are the filing requirements for retail services?
No ELEC is required to file a rate schedule or tariff with the Commission for retail services that it offers. However, each ELEC must maintain a publicly-accessible web site and keep it current with the rates, terms, and conditions of the services it offers.
Each ILEC, whether it is also an ELEC or not, must offer basic service as defined in RSA 374:22-p throughout its service area. Rates for basic service can be increased within limits each year. Each ILEC must notify the Commission whenever it changes the rates for basic service.
Each ILEC Not Operating as an ELEC is required to maintain a retail tariff with the Commission. Those tariffs can be found here.
What are the filing requirements for wholesale services?
Telephone utilities that offer wholesale telephone services to other carriers must maintain a tariff with the Commission pursuant to the Puc 1600 rules for three types of service: those required of the utility by 47 U.S.C. § 251(c), such as access to unbundled network elements or resale; those referred to as “tariffed” in interconnection agreements; and intrastate access service. See Puc 404.05 for the precise requirements.
Where can I learn about additional requirements applying to ILECs?
Puc 410 rules describe additional obligations of ILECs, including filing obligations. Puc 411 and Puc 412 rules describe additional obligations of ILECs not operating as ELECs.
Can telecommunications carriers that are not public utilities be certificated?
Entities that are not operating as telephone utilities in New Hampshire, but are offering telecommunications services, are not required to register with the Commission. However, they may choose to register and thereby obtain an acknowledgement from the Commission of their status, which may be useful in asserting rights with third parties. Pursuant to Puc 413, telecommunications carriers choosing to register shall file Form TC-1 Telecommunications Carrier Registration.
What happened to Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs), Competitive Toll Providers (CTPs), and Payphone Service Providers (PSPs)?
For the most part, the companies that our rules previously called CLECs, CTPs, or PSPs are now called “ELECs” in the rules. A company that operates in more than one of these categories will now file as a single ELEC entity, rather than filing (for example) both CLEC and CTP forms. A company that operates payphones, whether or not it also offers other telephone services, will file as an ELEC (including the T-6 Payphone Location Report.)
Three exceptions are worth noting.
- A company that provides telephone service over VoIP or IP-enabled transport (as defined in New Hampshire RSA 362:7) is not a telephone utility and is not an ELEC.
- A company that operates as a “data CLEC” providing data communications service but not voice services, whether or not it was previously registered as a CLEC in New Hampshire, is not a telephone utilityand is not an ELEC.
- A company that only provides telephone services at wholesale to other telephone companies and not to retail customers, whether or not it was previously registered as a CLEC or CTP in New Hampshire, is not a telephone utilityand is not an ELEC.
The Puc 400 rules and forms do not apply in these three cases, although the company may choose to file an application for registration as a telecommunications carrier.
Companies that offer telephone service to the public using only Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) are not classified as “telephone utilities.” Do they have any obligations as telephone providers under state law?
Yes. New Hampshire RSA 362:7, which excludes VoIP providers from the definition of “telephone utility,” also specifies that this classification shall not “affect, mandate, or prohibit the assessment of taxes or nondiscriminatory 911 fees, telecommunications relay service fees, or other fees of general applicability.” The obligation of these companies to pay into the New Hampshire Telecommunications Relay Service, and the New Hampshire E911 fund, remains in place.