TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to
the publication of certain rates and terms
To eliminate the requirement that telephone corporations like Frontier
and Verizon, as well as those competitors of Verizon that are
certified local exchange carriers, file tariffs for their competitive
non-basic retail services with the New York State Public Service
Commission (Commission) where they elect, instead, to make that
information available on their public websites, and in writing to
customers when requested.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill would eliminate the requirement that telephone
corporations like Frontier and Verizon, as well as those competitors
of Verizon that are certified local exchange carriers, file tariffs
for their competitive non-basic retail services with the New York
State Public Service Commission (Commission) where they elect,
instead, to make that information available on their public websites.
The section further requires such companies to develop a customer
service guide and file it with the commission as well as make it
available to any customer upon request. Further it requires notice of
changes in non-basic service terms and conditions to customers.
Section 2: Sets forth the effective date
Today, a small number of the telecommunications providers in the New
York market are required to file and maintain tariffs with the
Commission that describe their retail service offerings, the prices
charged, and the terms and conditions for such offerings. In some
instances, those filed rates, terms or conditions are not even allowed
to take effect for a minimum of 30 days or more. These tariff
requirements are a vestige of the monopoly era of telecommunications
when the Commission was charged with overseeing and regulating
monopoly providers. Today the marketplace is highly-competitive, and
most of the providers in the market, including large cable providers
that offer telephone services, are not required to file or maintain
tariffs, or to secure Commission approvals for the services they offer
their customers in competition with other regulated telephone
corporations. These other providers instead have agreements between
themselves and their customers.
The retail tariff filing for non-basic services and approval
obligations are an unnecessary burden on the telephone corporations
that remain subject to them, and they increase the cost of doing
business for those corporations while failing to provide any benefit
to customers. To comply with these obligations, incumbent telephone
providers must maintain a tariff database containing general terms and
conditions, and specific service descriptions and terms and conditions
for all the regulated telecommunications services it provides,
including even separate filings for individual case basis services
provided to business customers. Whenever it introduces a new service
or makes any change to the terms and conditions of its service
offerings, regulatory specialists review the service or change with
product managers, draft tariff language, create specially-formatted
tariff pages, file these pages with the Commission, and distribute
them as required.
Traditional providers are also required to maintain an electronic
database housing the tariffs and ensure that it is accessible to the
Commission. This process is parallel to, but must be coordinated with,
the separate processes undertaken for distinct employees to ensure
adequate and timely customer communications. Today, good customer
service in a competitive market requires the providers to communicate
the rates, terms, and conditions of the services customers purchase by
means of scripts, welcome packages, bills, and other information. In
fact, customers can obtain information about their services at any
time at a company's public website.
This information is far more accessible to customers than tariffs and
comparable to the materials provided by competitors, thus better
facilitating competitive comparison. Drafting, filing, and maintaining
tariff databases is an additional layer of communication, not
typically relied on by customers. In short, direct communication with
customers which providers already undertake today is more informative
to customers than are tariffs. Not only are tariffs an administrative
burden for the providers, but they also slow down the flow of
information in a competitive market. For example, traditional
providers must file tariffs days in advance of making changes to their
services, thus giving competitors advanced notice of business plans.
By eliminating retail tariffs for non-basic services for telephone
companies and certified providers that elect to post the rates terms
and conditions of those services on their websites along with other
requirements included in this bill, New York would be joining with the
federal government and numerous other states which have taken such
action. The federal government eliminated tariffs for interstate long
distance services over fifteen years ago with no harm to consumers.
Nationally, 40 states have already implemented some form of
de-tariffing for tele-communications services.
No fiscal impact to the state, but the state would likely achieve
administrative savings as a result of less work involved with
processing these types of filings.
This is a new bill
This bill shall take effect on the 90th day after it shall have become
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