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Relating to the period of eligibility for support from the universal service plan for certain providers.
HB 1618 would change the time frame under which competitive telecommunication providers in certain exchanges can receive support from the Texas Universal Service Fund (TUSF).
Senate Bill 583, passed during the 83rd legislative session, established a phase-out of the support telecommunication providers receive from the Texas Universal Service Fund (TUSF) in certain exchanges. The phase out time frame was to be 24 months after deregulation by the incumbent provider for competitive providers, and December 31, 2017, for cooperatives.
Because the deregulation of incumbent providers happened earlier than expected in some cases, HB 1618 would give competitive providers additional time to receive support by the Texas Universal Service Fund, by changing the time frame to the later of 24 months after deregulation by the incumbent provider or December 31, 2017.
SB 583 established the phase-out and providers were aware that this was coming. HB 1618 would extend the time frame for support by the TUSF for competitive providers, hence giving additional flexibility to some providers. Although the amount of additional support may not be substantial, this is not a step in the right direction as it delays the phase-out and sets a precedent for changing time frames in cases of deregulation. This violates both Free Market and Limited Government principles. As a consequence, we oppose this bill.