Iowa Utilities Board Deregulates Landline Telephone Service
IUB retains regulation over certain essential communications services
(Des Moines) – Due to effective competition for local communications services, the Iowa Utilities Board issued an Order today deregulating landline telephone service quality for Iowa customers in Docket No. INU-2016-0001. The Board also ruled it will continue to perform certain regulatory duties relating to essential communications services.
The Board began to evaluate the state’s progress toward the widespread availability of local exchange services from multiple providers in its Order of January 4, 2017. In that Order the Board noted, “It is the policy of the state of Iowa that communications services should be available throughout the state, from a variety of providers, at just and reasonable rates Iowa Code 476.95(1).” The Board also noted, “When sufficient providers enter a market, such that effective competition exists, the Board is required to deregulate that market Iowa Code 476.1D.”
Today’s Board action is based upon the widespread availability of effective competition to the vast majority of Iowans for these services. Deregulation includes nearly all customer service requirements, service quality standards, and provisions relating to discontinuation of service.
What this means for customers is that when they are experiencing issues with their landline telephone service provider, they have a choice to change to another provider or file a complaint with the Board. If a complaint is filed, the Board’s staff will work with the customer and the service provider to resolve the issues and discuss options for service.
For telephone companies this means they have to continue to offer quality service to compete for customers. The Board notes the landline telephone service certification requirements of Iowa Code 476.29 have been automatically repealed by a sunset provision and expects competition will be even more robust. That legislative action provides easier entrance for new providers in the market.
The rates for local exchange services have been deregulated for a number of years, but service quality regulation had continued. With today’s Order, the Board takes the next step and deregulates the service, subject to certain exceptions. The Board finds that regulation relating to the following essential communications services continues to be in the public interest and has met the test in Iowa Code 476.1D for continued regulation:
- Assessments for Dual Party Relay Service;
- Duties and authority delegated to the Board by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC);
- Telecommunications carrier registration requirements;
- Board assessments for expenses related to continuing regulatory activities; and
- Customer complaints regarding landline service quality or lack of service
This deregulation means that certain Board rules relating to local exchange telephone service are no longer enforceable. A list of those rules, based upon the record in this docket, can be found in the Ordering Clauses on pages 49-51 of today’s Order.
The Board will initiate a rule-making proceeding to update its rules regarding today’s action.
Today’s ruling along with all documents in this proceeding, are available to the public in the Board’s electronic filing system, efs.iowa.gov, by searching the docket number INU-2016-0001.
The Iowa Utilities Board regulates utilities to ensure that reasonably priced, reliable, environmentally responsible, and safe utility services are available to all Iowans.
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