Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 56. Public Service Companies
Chapter 15. Telegraph and Telephone Companies
5/14/2021

Article 3. Supervision by Commission.

§ 56-478. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1973, c. 376.

§ 56-478.1. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2011, cc. 738 and 740, cl. 2.

§ 56-479. Commission to make rules; require connection between companies; inspect lines and buildings.

The Commission shall keep itself fully informed of the condition of all the telephone companies of this Commonwealth as to the manner in which they are operated with reference to the accommodation of the public and shall, from time to time, make and enforce such requirements, rules and regulations as in its judgment will promote the efficiency of the service to be rendered, and to that end may require physical connection to be made between two or more lines at such place and in such manner as in its judgment the public service requires, having due regard to the interest of the companies to be affected thereby, as well as the effect upon their ability to render the best service to the public. The Commission may inspect and regulate the character of lines, buildings and other equipment used in the reception and transmission of messages, and may prohibit the paralleling of the lines of one company by those of another if in its judgment the efficiency of the service by either company or the public convenience will be injuriously affected.

Code 1919, § 4055.

§ 56-479.1. Long distance service; change of carriers; prior authorization.

No telephone company shall cause the long distance carrier designation of any telephone customer to be changed following such customer's initial selection thereof when establishing or reestablishing telephone service, without having first received a statement from the long distance carrier that such carrier has received a letter of agency or letter of authorization or an electronic authorization by use of an 800 number or an oral authorization verified by an independent third party, or any other means of authorization that is approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

1996, c. 476.

§ 56-479.2. Anti-competitive acts; injunctive relief.

A. No telecommunications service provider shall engage in anti-competitive acts or practices in connection with its provision of telecommunications services including price discrimination, predatory pricing or tying arrangements, as such terms are commonly applied in antitrust law.

B. Any telecommunications service provider injured or threatened with injury by a violation of any of the provisions of this section or § 15.2-2160 may maintain a cause of action for injunctive relief, damages, or both, and for reasonable costs and attorney's fees before the circuit court for the locality in which the injury occurs.

2002, cc. 479, 489.

§ 56-479.3. Authorization and verification for products, goods, and services to be billed on a telephone bill.

A. As used in this section, unless the context requires otherwise:

"Billing agent" means any entity that submits charges for products, goods, or services to the billing carrier on behalf of itself or any service provider.

"Billing carrier" means any telephone company that issues a telephone bill directly to customers.

"Service provider" means any entity that offers products, goods, and services to a customer and that directly or indirectly charges to or collects from a customer's bill received from a billing carrier an amount for such products, goods, or services.

B. This section does not apply to (i) products, goods, or services offered by or bundled with the services of a telephone company or its affiliates; (ii) telephone calls that are customer initiated by dialing 1+, 0+, 0-, or 1010XXX or that a customer accepts as collect; or (iii) commercial mobile radio services.

C. No service provider or billing agent shall willfully (i) add products, goods, or services not authorized by any customer or (ii) charge or attempt to collect charges from any customer for any such products, goods, or services without the customer's authorization. A customer is not liable for an amount charged through a billing carrier by a service provider or a billing agent without the authorization of the customer.

D. A service provider or billing agent shall obtain verification of a customer's authorization before submitting charges for products, goods, or services directly or indirectly to the billing carrier. The verification may be in written, oral, or electronic form and shall be verified by an independent third party. The service provider shall retain the verification for a minimum of two years.

E. A billing carrier shall not enter into an agreement to bill for any charges for products, goods, or services for a service provider or billing agent unless that agreement requires the service provider or billing agent to comply with subsection D.

2010, c. 322.

§ 56-480. Rates, etc., on file with Commission not to be questioned in courts; revision; proof.

The reasonableness, justice and validity of any rate, charge, rule, regulation or requirement on file with the Commission for any telephone company shall not be questioned in any suit brought by any person in the courts of this Commonwealth against any such telephone company, wherein is involved the charges of such company for the transmission of messages, or the efficiency of the public service and in all the courts of this Commonwealth they shall be conclusively presumed to be reasonable, just and valid.

All such schedules, rules, regulations and requirements shall be received and held in all such suits as prima facie the schedules, rules, regulations and requirements of the Commission without further proof than the production of the schedules desired to be used as evidence, with a certificate of the clerk of the Commission that the same is a true copy of the schedule, rule, regulation or requirement on file with the Commission and so offered in evidence.

Code 1919, § 4056; 1973, c. 378.

§ 56-480.1. Time limit on institution of approved rates.

No telephone company shall institute a rate for service contained within the official tariff of the company more than three years from the date such rate is approved by the State Corporation Commission.

1975, c. 550.

§ 56-480.2. Operator assistance at pay stations.

No telephone company shall require the deposit of money in any pay station as a prerequisite to reaching the operator from such station.

1979, c. 71.

§ 56-481. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2011, cc. 738 and 740, cl. 2.

§ 56-481.1. Rates, charges, and regulations for interexchange telephone service.

If under Chapter 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.) a certificate of public convenience and necessity is issued to a telephone company to provide interexchange service, the Commission may, if it determines that such service will be provided on a competitive basis, approve rates, charges, and regulations as it may deem appropriate for the telephone company furnishing the competitive service, provided such rates, charges, and regulations are nondiscriminatory and in the public interest. In making such determination, the Commission may consider (i) the number of companies providing the service; (ii) the geographic availability of the service from other companies; (iii) the quality of service available from other companies; and (iv) any other factors the Commission considers relevant to the public interest. The Commission is authorized to promulgate any rules necessary to implement this provision; provided that any such rules so promulgated shall be uniformly applicable to all telephone companies that are subject to the provisions of this section. The Commission shall permit the detariffing of interexchange service.

1984, c. 721; 2011, cc. 738, 740.

§ 56-481.2. Rates, charges and regulations for local exchange telephone services provided by new entrants.

If, under subsection B of § 56-265.4:4, a certificate of public convenience and necessity is issued to a new entrant to provide local exchange telephone service, the Commission shall at the same time adopt a form of regulation for the new entrant's local exchange services and, upon application pursuant to § 56-235.5, for the incumbent local exchange telephone company, that does not regulate the earnings of either. In approving the form of regulation of the new entrant's local exchange services, the Commission shall do so in a manner that is equitable to the new entrant and the incumbent local exchange telephone company and in the public interest. In determining the appropriate form of regulation for the new entrant, the Commission shall: (i) consider whether the form of regulation reasonably protects the affordability of basic local exchange telephone service, as such service is defined by the Commission, and reasonably assures the continuation of quality local exchange telephone service; and (ii) find that such action will not unreasonably prejudice or disadvantage any class of telephone company customers or telephone service providers, including the new entrant and incumbent local exchange telephone company, and is in the public interest. In approving the appropriate form of regulation for the new entrant, the Commission may take such action as it deems appropriate in the public interest, with due consideration being given to the competitiveness of the services, including deregulation and detariffing the services. Nothing in this section shall be construed to deprive the Commission of its power to modify the form of regulation, after notice and an opportunity for hearing, if it finds that competition or the potential for competition no longer effectively regulates the price of a service. Except as provided for in this section and in subsection B of § 56-265.4:4, no other provision of law relating to the regulation of rates, charges, and regulation of local exchange telephone services shall apply to the provision of such services by new entrants.

1995, cc. 22, 35, 187; 2001, c. 75.

§ 56-482. Agreements between telephone companies to be submitted to Commission.

Upon demand of either party thereto or any person affected thereby all arrangements and agreements whatever between two or more telephone companies doing business in this Commonwealth, affecting or regulating the division of charges, earnings, or the manner of transmission of messages over their respective lines, or the physical connection between the lines of such companies, shall be submitted to the Commission for inspection insofar as they may affect the efficiency of the public service and the ability of the respective companies to best serve the public and be subject to its approval.

Code 1919, § 4053.

§ 56-482.1. Reports required of interexchange telephone companies.

Each interexchange telephone company shall provide to the Commission in a timely manner any report or information concerning its usage of local exchange telephone services and facilities required under the effective access charge tariffs or schedules of a local exchange telephone company. The Commission shall prescribe rules and regulations to effectuate the purpose of this section. The requirement to provide any reports pursuant to such rules and regulations, other than reports required by the Commission to calculate the special revenue tax imposed under § 58.1-2660, shall expire on December 31 of each year unless extended by an order of the Commission issued after notice and an opportunity for a hearing.

1984, c. 721; 2011, cc. 738, 740.

§ 56-482.2. Penalties.

Any interexchange company which willfully and knowingly fails to provide on time a report required by § 56-482.1 or willfully and knowingly understates the volume or type of use of service or facilities in such report shall be liable to the local exchange telephone company covered by such report. In the case of an unprovided report, the liability shall be two times the amount of the charges for the services and facilities as actually used. In the case of an understated report, the liability shall be for two times the difference between the charges for the services and facilities as actually used and the charges as computed on the basis of an understated report.

1984, c. 721.

§ 56-483. Refusal or neglect to make reports; obstructing Commission in discharge of duties; violations in general.

Every officer, agent or employee of any telephone company, who shall willfully neglect or refuse to make and furnish any report lawfully required by the Commission for the purposes of this chapter or who shall willfully or unlawfully delay or obstruct the Commission in the discharge of the duties imposed upon it by the Constitution or laws of this Commonwealth, or the rules, regulations and requirements of the Commission, connected with the objects and purposes of this chapter, shall be fined not exceeding $500 for each offense; and any telephone company which violates any of the provisions of this chapter or refuses to conform to or obey any lawful rule, order, regulation, or requirement of the Commission relating to the provisions of this chapter may, when not otherwise provided by law, be fined by the Commission in its discretion, in a sum not exceeding $10,000 for each offense and each day such company or corporation continues to violate any lawful rule, order or regulation prescribed by the Commission shall be a separate offense. Such penalty shall be imposed and enforced upon like proceedings and in like manner as are those prescribed for the violation of law or the rules and regulations of the Commission by transportation companies.

Code 1919, § 4057; 2000, c. 986.

§ 56-484. Foreign companies to obtain license.

Every telephone or telegraph company, not incorporated by the laws of this Commonwealth, shall, as a condition precedent to the enjoyment of any right or privilege granted by this chapter, first obtain from the Commission a license to do business in this Commonwealth, and pay the fees and taxes imposed by law for such license.

Code 1919, § 4036.