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 5.1. Provision of Certain Communications Services.

§ 56-484.7:1. Offering of communications services.

A. A county, city, town, electric commission or board, industrial development authority, or economic development authority, other than one in a locality that (i) is eligible to provide telecommunications services pursuant to § 15.2-2160 and (ii) has a population in excess of 30,000, may offer qualifying communications services, or enter into public-private partnerships to offer such qualifying communications services, in accordance with the provisions of this article. For purposes of this article, a "qualifying communications service" is a communications service, which shall include but is not limited to, high-speed data service and Internet access service, of general application, but excluding any cable television or other multi-channel video programming services. The county, city, town, electric commission or board, industrial development authority, or economic development authority shall demonstrate in its petition that the qualifying communications services do not meet the standard set forth in § 56-484.7:2 within the geographic area specified in the petition. No such services shall be offered unless, prior to offering such services: (i) the county, city, town, electric commission or board, industrial development authority or economic development authority petitions the Commission to approve the offering of such qualifying communications services within a specified geographic area and (ii) the Commission, after notice and an opportunity for hearing in the affected area, issues a written order approving the petition or fails to approve or disapprove the petition within 60 days after notice. The 60-day period may be extended by Commission order for a period not to exceed an additional 60 days. The petition shall be deemed approved if the Commission fails to act within 60 days after notice or any extended period ordered by the Commission.

B. Each county, city, town, electric commission or board, industrial development authority, or economic development authority that provides communications services pursuant to this article shall provide nondiscriminatory access to for-profit providers of communications services on a first-come, first-served basis to rights-of-way, poles, conduits or other permanent distribution facilities owned, leased or operated by the county, city, town, electric commission or board, industrial development authority, or economic development authority unless the facilities have insufficient capacity for such access and additional capacity cannot reasonably be added to the facilities.

C. The prices charged by a county, city, town, electric commission or board, industrial development authority, or economic development authority for providing communications services shall not be set at a price for the service lower than the prices charged by any incumbent provider for a functionally equivalent service that is as generally available from such incumbent as it is from such governmental entity.

D. No county, city, town, electric commission or board, industrial development authority, or economic development authority providing such qualifying communications services shall acquire by eminent domain the facilities or other property of any communications service provider to offer cable, telephone, data transmission or other information or online programming services.

E. The Commission may promulgate rules necessary to implement this section.

1999, c. 916; 2002, cc. 479, 489; 2003, cc. 677, 711.

§ 56-484.7:2. Approval.

The Commission shall find that it is in the public interest to approve the offering of qualifying communications services as defined in § 56-484.7:1 unless it shall be demonstrated to the Commission and found that, within the geographic area specified in the petition: (i) the qualifying communications service specified in the petition as provided for in § 56-484.7:1 is readily and generally in the specified geographic area available from each of three or more nonaffiliated companies and is functionally equivalent for consumers in that specified geographic area to one or more services offered by each of the three or more competitors; (ii) the petition is not in compliance with the requirements of § 56-484.7:1; or (iii) the offering of the proposed qualifying communications services will not benefit consumers.

1999, c. 916; 2002, cc. 479, 489; 2003, c. 711.

§ 56-484.7:3. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2002, cc. 479 and 489.

§ 56-484.7:4. Revocation of Commission approval.

The Commission may revoke its approval of a petition under § 56-484.7:1 no earlier than five years after such approval if it finds (i) that the factors described in § 56-484.7:2 on which the approval was based no longer exist or are no longer being satisfied, or (ii) that the petitioner has not made satisfactory progress toward making generally available the qualifying communications services specified in the petition. If the Commission finds that such approval should be revoked, it shall determine a date by which the county, city, town, electric commission or board, or authority shall cease to offer such qualifying communications services. In determining such date the Commission shall allow a reasonable time for the entity to offer its equipment, infrastructure and other assets related to such qualifying communications services for sale at fair market value, which shall be deemed to be no less than the amount of the indebtedness, for such equipment, infrastructure and other assets related to such qualifying communications services. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the use of telecommunications equipment and services for intragovernmental purposes as specified in § 15.2-1500.

2002, cc. 479, 489; 2003, c. 711.