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Commissioner Espinoza Explains Changes in Telecom Legislation

By Public Regulation Commission | December 8, 2017

SANTA FE – In response to inquiries and concerns from consumers throughout New Mexico, Public Regulation Commissioner Valerie Espinoza feels it is important to address changes that were enacted by the Legislature that have impacted the Commission’s regulatory oversight of large wireline telephone companies – a change in legislation she strongly opposed.
During the 2017 Legislative Session, the State Legislature passed Senate Bill 53. This new law, which went into effect in June 2017, changed the manner in which large wireline telephone companies are regulated in New Mexico.
Senate Bill 53 replaces the basis for the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission’s regulation for these companies, mandating more relaxed oversight in areas of pricing, quality of service, and consumer protection.
The Commission is currently in the process of determining the appropriate form of regulation for carriers with more than 50,000 telephone access lines to comply with the requirements in the changed legislative language in Senate Bill 53 Case No.17-00186-UT.
At present, CenturyLink is the sole carrier identified by the Commission as having more than 50,000 access lines in the state of New Mexico.
The Commission is required to report to the Legislature by July 31, 2019 any impact the new law has on the large wireline telephone company’s rates, quality of service, employment figures, investments these companies have made in telecommunications infrastructure, and the availability and deployment of high-speed data services in their service territory.
The Commission could impose some level of re-regulation if certain conditions are met based on information collected and if doing so is determined to be in the public interest. Those conditions, as permitted by Senate Bill 53, are contingent upon further findings and hearings held by the Commission prior to July 31, 2021.
The public is advised to contact the Telecommunications Bureau directly at http://nmprc.state.nm.us/utilities/telecommunications.html or the Consumer Relations Division at crd.complaints@state.nm.us regarding questions about Senate Bill 53 or concerns stemming from the passage and impact of the new law. This information is also provided on the PRC’s web site, in an article titled “What You Need to Know About NM’s New Telecom Legislation,” located at www.nmprc.state.nm.us.
“I appreciate the frustrations already being voiced by New Mexicans about a range of potential problems – and concerns that many of us share – that we hope are resolved in the wake of the relaxed regulatory oversight brought about with the passage of Senate Bill 53,” Commissioner Espinoza stated. “I encourage customers to contact our Consumer Relations Division at 505/827-1247 and our Telecommunications Bureau at 505/827-6902 for assistance with and documentation of these issues.”

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