Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation Monday to modernize how schools, hospitals and other entities apply for money for high speed internet services through the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund (OUSF). Sen. Eddie Fields is the principal Senate author of House Bill 2616, which modifies the Oklahoma Telecommunications Act to reflect advances in technology.
“The Oklahoma Telecommunications Act was enacted in 1997 and technology has changed drastically since then. This bill updates this Act to make the funding process for universal services more efficient for schools, career techs, libraries and hospitals,” said Fields, R-Wynona.
HB 2616 modifies the procedure for eligible providers to seek and obtain funding and allows the OUSF administrator to issue a determination within 60 days of the receipt of a request. The bill also allows 15 days to file a request for reconsideration.
The bill changes the administration of the OUSF from a litigation-based system to an administrative process that attempts to create certainty and clarity for service bids sought by schools and hospitals. The measure updates the act to be technology neutral and removes outdated credit modes.
Finally, it modifies definitions for administrative process, contributing provider, eligible provider, and adds a definition for eligible local exchange telecommunications service provider.
The bill was authored by Rep. Todd Thomsen and became law when it was signed.