TITLE 39
Public Utilities and Carriers

CHAPTER 39-1
Public Utilities Commission

SECTION 39-1-62


§ 39-1-62 E-911 Geographic Information System (GIS) and Technology Fund.

(a) Preamble. To allow the Rhode Island E-911 Emergency Telephone System agency to associate latitude and longitude coordinates provided by wireless carriers with physical locations throughout the state, the agency must establish and maintain a GIS database of street addresses and landmarks. The database will allow local emergency response personnel to dispatch police, fire and rescue personnel to a specific address or landmark of a cellular caller in the event the caller is unaware of his or her location, or is physically unable to communicate it. Because more than half of the 530,000 9-1-1 phone calls received in 2003 came from cellular phones, it is critical that the GIS database be developed and maintained in order to improve caller location identification and reduce emergency personnel response times.

(b) Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) "System" means Emergency 911 Uniform Telephone System.

(2) "Agency" means Rhode Island 911 Emergency Telephone System.

(3) "Division" means the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers.

(4) "GIS and Technology Fund" means the programs and funding made available to the Emergency 911 Uniform Telephone System to assist in paying the costs of the GIS database development project and GIS systems maintenance, which will enable the system to locate cellular phone callers by geocoding all addresses and landmarks in cities and towns throughout the state. GIS and Technology Fund also includes programs and funding to create system redundancy, fund the construction of a new E-911 facility, and operate and maintain other state-of-the-art equipment in public safety agencies.

(5) "Prepaid wireless E911 telecommunications service" means a wireless telecommunications service that allows a caller to dial 911 to access the 911 system, which service must be paid for in advance and is sold in predetermined units or dollars of which the number declines with use in a known amount.

(c) Purpose. The purpose of the GIS and Technology Fund shall be to:

(1) Implement and maintain a geographic information system database to assist in locating wireless phone callers for emergency purposes in a manner consistent and in coordination with the Rhode Island geographic information system administered by the Division of Planning as provided for in § 42-11-10(g)(3); and

(2) Create system redundancy to ensure the reliability of 9-1-1 service to the public;

(3) Operate and maintain other state-of-the-art equipment in public safety agencies; and

(4) Fund the construction of a new E-911 facility.

(d) Authority. The agency shall establish, by rule or regulation, an appropriate funding mechanism to recover from the general body of ratepayers the costs of funding GIS and technology projects.

(1) The general assembly shall determine the amount of a monthly surcharge to be levied upon each wireless instrument, device or means including cellular, telephony, Internet, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), satellite, computer, radio, communication, data, or any other wireless instrument, device or means that has access to, connects with, interfaces with or is capable of delivering two-way interactive communications services to the Rhode Island E-911 Uniform Emergency Telephone System. Prepaid wireless E911 telecommunications services shall not be included in this act, but shall be governed by chapter 21.2 of title 39. The agency will provide the general assembly with information and recommendations regarding the necessary level of funding to effectuate the purposes of this article. The surcharge shall be billed monthly by each wireless telecommunications services provider as defined in § 39-21.1-3, which shall not include prepaid wireless E911 telecommunications service, and shall be payable to the wireless telecommunications services provider by the subscriber of the telecommunications services. Each telecommunication services provider shall establish a special (escrow) account to which it shall deposit on a monthly basis the amounts collected as a surcharge under this section. The money collected by each wireless telecommunication services provider shall be transferred within sixty (60) days after its inception of wireless, cellular, telephony, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), satellite, computer, Internet, or communications, information or data services in this state and every month thereafter. Any money not transferred in accordance with this paragraph shall be assessed interest at the rate set forth in § 44-1-7 from the date the money should have been transferred. State, local and quasi-governmental agencies shall be exempt from the surcharge. The surcharge shall be deposited in restricted receipt account, hereby created within the agency and known as the GIS and Technology Fund, to pay any and all costs associated with the provisions of subsection (c). Beginning July 1, 2007, the surcharge shall be deposited in the general fund as general revenues to pay any and all costs associated with the provisions of subsection (c). The GIS and Technology Fund restricted receipt account shall be terminated June 30, 2008. The amount of the surcharge under this section shall not exceed thirty-five cents ($.35) per wireless phone.

(2) The surcharge is hereby determined to be twenty-six cents ($.26) per wireless phone, cellular, telephony, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), satellite, computer, data or data only wireless lines or Internet communication or data instrument, device or means which has access to, connects with, activates or interfaces with or any combination of the above with the Rhode Island E-911 Uniform Emergency Telephone System per month and shall be in addition to the wireless surcharge charged under § 39-21.1-14. The twenty-six cents ($.26) is to be billed to all wireless telecommunication service providers, subscribers upon the inception of services.

(3) The amount of the surcharge shall not be subject to the sales and use tax imposed under chapter 18 of title 44 nor be included within the gross earnings of the telecommunications corporation providing telecommunications service for the purpose of computing the tax under chapter 13 of title 44.

(4) [Deleted by P.L. 2010, ch. 23, art. 9, § 10].

(e) Administration. The division of taxation shall collect monthly from the wireless telecommunications service providers as defined in § 39-21.1-3, and which shall not include prepaid wireless E911 telecommunications service, the amounts of the surcharge collected from their subscribers. The division of taxation shall deposit such collections in the general fund as general revenues for use in developing and maintaining the geographic information system database, creating system redundancy, funding the construction of a new E-911 facility and operating and maintaining other state-of-the-art equipment for public safety agencies. The agency is further authorized and encouraged to seek matching funds from all local, state, and federal public or private entities and shall coordinate its activities and share all information with the state Division of Planning.

(f) Effective date. The effective date of assessment for the GIS and Technology Fund shall be July 1, 2004.

(g) Nothing in this section shall be construed to constitute rate regulation of wireless communications services carriers, nor shall this section be construed to prohibit wireless communications services carriers from charging subscribers for any wireless service or feature.

(h) Except as otherwise provided by law, the agency shall not use, disclose or otherwise make available call location information for any purpose other than as specified in subsection (c).

(i) The attorney general shall, at the request of the E-911 uniform emergency telephone system division, or any other agency that may replace it, or on its own initiative, commence judicial proceedings in the superior court against any telecommunication services provider as defined in § 39-21.1-3(12) providing communication services to enforce the provisions of this chapter.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2004, ch. 595, art. 31, § 2; P.L. 2005, ch. 365, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 246, art. 4, § 3; P.L. 2007, ch. 73, art. 4, § 1; P.L. 2010, ch. 23, art. 9, § 10.)