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Helpful Information About the Texas Universal Service Fund

If you have received a letter regarding the Texas Universal Service Fund (TUSF) assessment, it is because you have been identified by the Texas Comptroller’s office as an entity that reports taxable telecommunications receipts under Chapter 151 of the Texas Tax Code. The TUSF is supported by a charge of about 3.7% of all taxable telecommunications receipts of Texas’ telecommunications providers.

If you believe that you are not a telecommunications provider as that term is defined below, please send a letter briefly stating the basis for the assertion that you are not a telecommunications provider. Your letter will assist us in maintaining accurate records.

Send your letter to the following address:

Attn: TUSF
c/o Solix
30 Lanidex Plaza West
Parsippany, NJ 07054-0685

The Public Utility Commission hired an outside entity to administer the TUSF because the PUC does not have sufficient in-house resources or expertise to manage the daily operations of the fund. For questions regarding the TUSF contact Solix's TUSF hotline at  (800) 899-6078.

Solix was selected as the TUSF administrator through a competitive bidding process because it offered the best package of services at the best price. Solix serves as the administrator for at least six other state universal service funds.

If you still have outstanding questions after contacting the Solix, please notify the TUSF Administrator at the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

Attn: TUSF Administrator
Public Utility Commission of Texas
PO Box 13326
Austin, TX 78711-3326

Introduction

In 1987, the Texas Legislature established a Universal Service Funding mechanism, which has changed over time through amendments to the Texas statute. The current rules concerning universal service in place at the Public Utility Commission of Texas complement the federal universal service rules and are appropriate for the changes in the telecommunications industry toward a competitive market.

The Texas Universal Service Fund (TUSF) is financed by a charge of about 3.7% of all taxable telecommunications receipts of Texas’ telecommunications providers. Telecommunications providers are allowed to pass the costs of the TUSF through to residential and business customers on their monthly bills. Currently, the TUSF supports several programs: the Relay Texas and Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Programs, the Tel-Assistance, Lifeline and Link Up programs, and the Small Local Exchange Carriers Universal Service Fund, and the Texas High-Cost Universal Service Plan.

Texas Statutory Sections that Pertain to the TUSF

Sec.51.002. DEFINTIONS.

(10) "Telecommunications provider":

(A) means:

(i) a certificated telecommunications utility;

(ii) a shared tenant service provider;

(iii) a nondominant carrier of telecommunications services;

(iv) a provider of commercial mobile service as defined by Section 332(d), Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. Section 151 et seq.), Federal Communications Commission rules, and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-66);

(v) a telecommunications entity that provides central office based PBX-type sharing or resale arrangements;

(vi) an interexchange telecommunications carrier;

(vii) a specialized common carrier;

(viii) a reseller of communications;

(ix) a provider of operator services;

(x) a provider of customer-owned pay telephone service; or

(xi) a person or entity determined by the commission to provide telecommunications services to customers in this state; and

(B) does not mean:

(i) a provider of enhanced or information services, or another user of telecommunications services, who does not also provide telecommunications services; or

(ii) a state agency or state institution of higher education, or a service provided by a state agency or state institution of higher education.

Sec.56.022. UNIFORM CHARGE

(a) The universal service fund is funded by a statewide uniform charge payable by each telecommunications provider that has access to the customer base.

(b) A telecommunications provider shall pay the charge in accordance with procedures approved by the commission.

(c) The uniform charge is on services and at rates the commission determines. In establishing the charge and the services to which the charge will apply, the commission may not:

(1) grant an unreasonable preference or advantage to a telecommunications provider;

(2) assess the charge on pay telephone; or

(3) subject a telecommunications provider to unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.

Helpful Links

For information about the Federal Universal Service Fund check: http://www.fcc.gov/ccb/universal_service/welcome.html