Doing Business as a Voice Service Provider

Approval to Provide Competitive Local Exchange Service Required

Maine law (35-A M.R.S.A. § 2102) states that a public utility must obtain approval from the Maine Public Utilities Commission before it is able to provide local exchange service in Maine, whether through its own facilities or through resale. The purpose of this package is to describe the application process as it related to telecommunications services offered by CLECs in Maine.

We recommend that you review the Commission Rules and Emergency Communication Services Bureau Rules before you begin offering services. In particular we draw your attention to:

(Commission Rules may be accessed here)

Chapter 280, Provision of Competitive Telecommunications Services

Chapter 285, Maine Telecommunications Education Access Fund

Chapter 288, Maine Universal Service Fund

Chapter 291, Standards for Billing, Credit and Collection, and Customer Information for Non-Eligible Telecommunications Carriers

Chapter 292, Standards for Billing, Credit and Collection, and Customer Information for Interexchange Carriers

Chapter 296, Selection of Primary Interexchange And Local Exchange Carriers

Chapter 297, Anti-Cramming Rule

Chapter 870, Late Payment Charges, Interest Rates on Customer Deposits, and Charges for Returned Checks

35-A M.R.S.A. §7302, 70% rate reduction for intrastate toll calls for residential deaf customers who rely on teletypewriters for telecommunications service.

Applicants must file their application package electronically through the Commission’s online docketing and filing system.  Please review the Commission’s online filing procedures for more details. The application must be addressed to: 

Harry Lanphear
Administrative Director
Maine Public Utilities Commission 18 State House Station
242 State Street
Augusta, ME 04333-0018

Specific Information Applicable to Local Service

Provision of local exchange service is governed by the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TelAct) as well as by Maine law and Public Utilities Commission rules. Sections 251-252 of the TelAct establish a process whereby entities wishing to provide competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) services may request negotiation of interconnection and access from incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs).  As a practical matter, each new CLEC will need, in most cases, an interconnection agreement with one or more ILECs. Such Interconnection Agreements must be filed with and approved by the Commission.

In order to preserve telephone numbering resources within Maine’s single area code, the Commission also recognizes an important distinction between facilities-based and reseller local exchange carriers (LECs). The Commission approves service territory areas for facilities-based LECs only for those where the LEC actually intends and is able to provide local service within a six-month period. A facilities-based LEC may establish that is able to provide service by showing that is has (or will have within six months) switching and loop facilities (including those obtained as unbundled network elements (UNEs) from an ILEC) that are capable of providing local service to the proposed service area. A commitment to obtain collocation from an ILEC serving the area will also be considered in determining whether a CLEC is ready to provide facilities-based service. Neither the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) nor the National Pooling Administrator will assign phone numbers unless a LEC is authorized to provide local service in the location requested. 

The service territory limitations described above apply only to local exchange carriers that are granted the authority to provide facilities-based service. It does not apply to local exchange resale authority. The Commission defines local exchange resale as the sale of local services purchased at a wholesale discount from an ILEC pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 251(c)(4). 

After the initial order granting authority to provide resold service or facilities-based service to a limited area, a utility may seek to expand its authority to provide facilities-based service or facilities-based service to additional areas. Upon demonstration by the utility of its readiness to serve the Commission will act expeditiously to amend the order granting authority. 

The Commission strongly recommends that all local exchange carriers define their service territories by reference to the exchange boundaries of incumbent local exchange carriers. In the absence of such conformity, there could be substantial confusion for both ILEC and CLEC customers concerning whether calls to certain locations are local (within a Basic Service Calling Area, as defined pursuant to Commission rule) or toll.

Obligations of Interexchange Carriers

See Section below regarding obligations of Voice Service Providers

Obligations of Voice Service Providers 

Under Maine law (35-A MRSA §102, sub-§21-A) the term Voice Service Provider (VSP) was established to describe  any person providing, directly or indirectly, 2-way voice communications service for compensation in this State.  Under existing statute and Commission regulation, all voice service providers are required to contribute to the Maine Universal Service Fund (MUSF) established pursuant to 35-A M.R.S.A. § 7104, and to the Maine Telecommunications Education Access Fund (MTEAF) established pursuant to 35-A M.R.S.A. § 7104-B.

Under existing statute and Commission regulation, VSPs that are also classified as public utilities are obligated to contribute to the Commission and Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) assessments as required by 35-A M.R.S.A. § 116. In addition, any provider of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service that paid assessments prior to March 1, 2012, whether voluntarily, by agreement with the Commission, or otherwise, are classified as “qualified telecommunications providers” and are also obligated to pay assessments as required by 35-A M.R.S.A. § 116. Pursuant to § 116(1)(B), the Commission assessment is based upon a carrier’s “intrastate gross operating revenues.” For telephone utilities, such revenues are those which are derived from “filed rates.” Pursuant to 35-A M.R.S.A. § 7232(1), enacted by the Legislature in 2012, the only rates of a telephone utility that are required to be filed with the Commission are those for POLR service. For qualified telecommunications providers, intrastate revenues form the basis of the Commission assessment notwithstanding the fact that the rates of such carriers are not “filed rates.”

Voice Service Provider

MUSF Fee

MTEAF Fee

ConnectME

OPA/MPUC Assessment

E-9-1-1

POLR (ILECs)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Cable VoIP*

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Voice over Internet Protocol

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

IXCs

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

CLECs

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Mobile Wireless Carriers

Yes

Yes

Optional

No

Yes

Prepaid Wireless

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Radio Paging

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

* Pursuant to 35-A MRSA §116, sub-§1, Comcast, Time Warner, MetroCast, and Bee Line Cable were paying assessments as of March 1, 2012 and thus meet the definition of a “qualified telecommunications provider.” 

Please note that for the MUSF, ConnectME, and MTEAF funds, registration is required with our joint funds administrator: Solix, Inc..  Their website is:  www.solixinc.com.  To register, please contact either:

Michael Tamburino
Direct Dial No.: (973) 581-6714
Email: Michael.TAMBURINO@solixinc.com

E-9-1-1 Surcharge Fee Remittance

For information about contributing to the E-9-1-1 surcharge fee, please go to the Emergency Communications Services Bureau Website (ESCB).

Inquires

Inquiries related to local exchange service should be directed to the Commission staff at (207) 287-3831.