(a) The Legislature finds that universal telephone service contributes to the state's economic, social and political integration and development. The preservation of universal telephone service is therefore of utmost importance to the state and its citizens.
(b) Recent changes in the telecommunications industry, however, both in its structure and in the national policy which governs it, have begun to exert a general, upward pressure on the rates for basic telephone service. Although neither the extent to which basic telephone rates may rise in the future, nor the effect of any such future increases on the general affordability of telephone service can be ascertained at this time, the Legislature finds that anticipatory action should nonetheless be taken to preserve the universal telephone service which has been substantially achieved in this state.
(c) All eligible telecommunications carriers providing local exchange dial access line service subject to the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission shall file with the commission tariffs providing for the offering of a new class of basic residential service, at a special reduced rate, to certain low-income households. Such tariffs shall be filed after the adoption of the rules mandated by subsections (b) and (c), section four of this article.