CHAPTER 487

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 396

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 26 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND PROVIDING FOR THE REGULATION OF CERTAIN PRACTICES.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE :

Section 1. Amend Chapter 9, Title 26 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new subchapter III as follows:

"SUBCHAPTER III. CHANGES IN CUSTOMER SELECTION

OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE PROVIDERS

§922. Statement of Purpose.

The General Assembly finds that competition in the telecommunications industry provides opportunities for initiating the unauthorized switching of a customer’s telephone service provider without the customer’s agreement or authorization, or the addition to a customer’s bill of a product or service not authorized or requested by the customer. It is the purpose of this subchapter to protect telecommunications consumers from unauthorized changes in providers and unauthorized charges, and to protect ethical providers from unfair competition.

§923. Definitions.

As used in the subchapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) "Carrier" shall mean any person or entity offering to the public telecommunications service that originates or terminates within the State of Delaware; provided, however, that the term Carrier shall not include:

(1) Any political subdivision, public or private institution of higher education or municipal corporation of this State or operated by their lessees or operating agents that provides telephone service for the sole use of such political subdivisions, public or private institutions of higher learning or municipal corporations;

(2) A company that provides telecommunications services solely to itself and its affiliates or members or between points in the same building, or between closely located buildings which are affiliated through substantial common ownership, and does not offer such services to the available general public;

(3) Providers of domestic public land mobile radio service provided by cellular technology; and

(4) Payphone service providers.

(b) "Change Order" shall mean any order changing a Customer’s designated Carrier for local exchange service, intraLATA intrastate toll service or both.

(c) "Commission" shall mean the Delaware Public Service Commission.

(d) "Customer" shall mean a person who subscribes to local exchange services, intraLATA intrastate toll service or both.

(e) "Executing Carrier" shall mean a Carrier that effects a request that a Customer’s Carrier be changed.

(f) "Letter of Agency" shall mean a separate document, or easily separable document, signed and dated by the Customer or prospective Customer, the sole purpose of which is to authorize a Carrier to initiate a Preferred Carrier change.

(g) "Preferred Carrier" shall mean any Carrier providing service to a Customer at the time this subchapter is enacted, or such Carrier as the Customer thereafter designates as the Customer’s Preferred Carrier.

(h) "Submitting Carrier" shall mean any Carrier that requests on behalf of a Customer that the Customer’s Carrier be changed, and seeks to provide retail services to an end user Customer.

§924. Prohibitions and Changes in Preferred Carrier Selection.

(a) No Carrier shall bill for intrastate telecommunications services, nor solicit to provide intrastate telecommunication services, within the State, unless such Carrier has received a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Commission.

(b) No Submitting Carrier shall submit a change in the Customer’s selection of a Carrier prior to obtaining:

(1) Authorization from the Customer; and

(2) Verification of that authorization in accordance with the procedures prescribed in this subchapter and implementing regulations of the Commission.

(c) No Carrier shall bill or collect from any person a charge for any product or service to which such person has not agreed or subscribed, nor for any amount in excess of that specified in the tariff, price list or contract governing the charges for such services.

§925. Verification of Orders for Telecommunications Service.

(a) No Carrier shall submit a Preferred Carrier Change Order unless and until the Change Order has first been confirmed in accordance with one of the following procedures:

(1) The Carrier has obtained the Customer’s written authorization;

(2) The Carrier has obtained the Customer’s electronic authorization; or

(3) An appropriately qualified independent third party has obtained the Customer’s oral authorization to submit the Change Order.

(b) The Commission shall promulgate regulations governing the form and content of all authorizations permitted by this Section.

§926. Duty of Executing Carrier.

An Executing Carrier shall not verify the submission of a change in a Customer’s selection of a provider of telecommunications service received from a Submitting Carrier. For an Executing Carrier, compliance with the procedures prescribed in this subchapter shall be defined as prompt execution, without any unreasonable delay, of changes that have been verified by a Submitting Carrier.

§927. Letter of Agency.

(a) A Carrier may use a Letter of Agency to obtain written authorization and verification of a Customer’s request to change his or her Preferred Carrier selection.

(b) The Commission shall promulgate regulations governing the form and content of Letters of Agency.

§928. Preferred Carrier Freezes.

(a) A Customer may institute a Preferred Carrier freeze to prevent a change in such Customer’s Preferred Carrier selection without his or her express consent.

(b) The Commission shall promulgate regulations governing the procedures for implementing and lifting Preferred Carrier freezes and the form and contents of solicitations or other materials provided to the Customer regarding Preferred Carriers freezes.

§929. Customer Protections.

The Commission shall promulgate regulations governing the procedures to be followed by the Customer and Carrier in the event that a Customer believes that his or her Carrier has been changed without his or her authorization or has caused or allowed the Customer to be billed for unauthorized charges and remedies available for violations of the subchapter.

§930. Commission Authority.

(a) The Commission is authorized to supplement the provisions hereof by promulgating such additional regulations that it deems necessary to achieve the purposes set forth in §922 of this subchapter.

(b) All Commission regulations promulgated pursuant to this subchapter shall be consistent with federal law.

Approved August 01, 2000