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Appendix C Position Paper on Federal One-Call Legislation The

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					      Appendix C: Position Paper on Federal One-Call Legislation

             The Need for Comprehensive One-Call Legislation
Gone are the days of copper cables carrying plain old telephone service. Today’s fiber
optic cables carry a myriad of telecommunications services, including Federal Aviation
Administration traffic, stock market transactions, medical imaging, 911 emergency
services, tele-education initiatives, e-mail and facsimile messages.              Reliable
telecommunications services are critical to the support of a vibrant U.S. economy in a
global marketplace. A fiber cut can dramatically affect millions of Americans within a few
short minutes.
The Facilities Solution Team of the Network Reliability Steering Committee, a Federal
Communications Commission-appointed industry group, recently analyzed data on
service interruptions and noted that dig-ups are the largest single cause of fiber cable
failures and account for over half of the cable failures reported in the industry. More than
70 percent of the dig-ups resulted from an excavator’s failure to notify the owner of the
underground facility before digging started or to excavate properly. Texas, a state with
no one-call legislation, accounted for 20 percent of the dig-ups nationwide. The
Network Reliability Council overwhelmingly endorsed federal one-call legislation as an
important means of deterring cable dig-ups and ensuring network reliability.
Federal legislation is vital in order to ensure that call-before-you-dig systems are
uniformly developed and administered across the country. Although over 40 states have
damage prevention laws requiring notification prior to excavations, the Facilities Solution
Team has found these laws are generally weak and, most importantly, inadequately
enforced and provide little in the way of deterrence through penalties. That is why
federal legislation is needed.
On October 13, 1995, Representative Frank Pallone introduced H.R. 2482, the
Comprehensive One-Call Notification Act of 1995. This bill would require states to
consider enacting comprehensive one-call legislation, an important initiative which will go
a long way toward securing telecommunications network reliability. However, there are
issues which merit additional consideration:
 “STATES SHALL CONSIDER” vs. “STATES SHALL ENACT” -- The original draft
of the one-call bill in the 103rd Congress provided that “States shall enact” one-call
notification systems. During the debate last year, that language was changed to “Each
State shall consider” whether to adopt one-call legislation. Returning to the original
language would help to create uniform standards which will maximize protection for vital
underground facilities. Because common carriers and others with buried facilities already
pay for one-call centers, no cost is being passed on to the states.
RAILROAD AND AGRICULTURAL EXEMPTIONS -- All excavators should be
equally subject to call-before-you-dig requirements. Broad exemptions, such as the
exemption for routine railroad maintenance S. 164 and the agricultural exemption in both
House and Senate bills, promote careless excavation. This increases the risk of cable dig-
ups, telecommunications outages, and the potentially dangerous circumstances that spring
from them.



                                      Appendix C - 1
      Appendix C: Position Paper on Federal One-Call Legislation

PENALTIES -- While 46 states have some form of one-call legislation, the penalty
provisions are generally weak and unenforced. Specifying stiff penalties and an
enforcement mechanism in the bill will strengthen the legislation.
We welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this further and to provide you
with additional information.




                                    Appendix C - 2

				
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