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The Telecommunications Unit reviews matters relating to rates and services of telephone companies. In addition to the more traditional types of cases under regulation, the Unit also has had to assist the Commission in carrying out ground-breaking policy changes as the telecommunications industry has been moved toward deregulation.

The primary duties of the Commission regarding the regulation of telecommunications are as follows:

  • Setting rates and regulation of service quality for large local exchange carriers (e.g., Qwest)
  • Review of rates upon complaint and setting service quality standards for independent, municipal and cooperative carriers (of which there are more than 100)
  • Certification and service quality regulation for long distance carriers (e.g., ATT, MCI and hundreds more)
  • Arbitration of interconnection contracts under the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996
  • Administration of the extended area service process
  • Rule-making to guide the transition to deregulated market
  • Approval of alternative regulatory plans (e.g., price cap plans)
  • Approval of mergers and sales of exchanges
  • Setting the surcharge for various specialized state-funded telephone programs (e.g., Telephone Access Minnesota, Telephone Assistance Plan)
  • Administration of the federally-funded Link Up America Lifeline Telephone Service Discount programs for Minnesota
  • Approval of 911 plans
  • Mediation of consumer complaints regarding telecommunications services