Hawaii Adopts Legislation to Open Telecommunications Markets to Competition

The Eighteenth Legislature of the State of Hawaii took unprecedented steps to open its telecommunications markets to competition during the 1995 legislative session.

Act 225, SLH 1995, accelerates the opening of Hawaii's telecommunications market, while assuring that neighbor island and rural communities obtain access to advanced infrastructure and services. Key sections of the bill provide for:

Negotiated agreements and obligations
Specifies broad obligations for all telecommunications carriers; negotiated agreements may be entered into between telecommunications carriers, under general guidelines to be established by PUC; subject to PUC review for compliance. Includes provisions for: (a) interconnection between networks; (b) interim use of existing interstate tariff for intrastate network access; (c) nondiscriminatory access to facilities, functions, network information, unbundled network functions; (d) access to poles, conduits, rights-of-way; (e) limits ability to restrict resale/sharing of services; (f) dialing parity [no need to dial additional digits to reach other telecommunications carrier of choice]; (g) number portability within an exchange.

Compensation agreements
The PUC shall ensure fair and equitable compensation for network interconnection and the termination of services on other networks.

Regulatory flexibility for effectively competitive services
The PUC may allow pricing flexibility for services found to be effectively competitive, provided that basic and non-competitive services remain cost-based, and universal service is preserved and enhanced.

Cross-subsidies
The PUC shall ensure that noncompetitive services may not cross-subsidize competitive services; provides guidelines to determine when cross-subsidization has occurred.

Access to advanced services
The PUC shall ensure that all consumers statewide are provided with nondiscriminatory, reasonable and equitable access to high-quality advanced services.

Universal Service
[Under competitive markets, the LEC (GTE) may no longer use implicit subsidies to fund universal service obligations; program is required to provide explicit mechanism for such support];
a state universal service program is established, which will be administered by the state PUC.