Telecommunications Statutory Definition

"Telecommunications" means the transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user's choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received. the term does not include commercial mobile radio services, pay phone services, interstate services or cable services.

The first sentence of this definition effectively states the commonly understood meaning of "telecommunications." the second sentence, however, drastically constricts the meaning of that term as used in A.R.S. sections 9-581 to -583.

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 1211 (10th ed. 1999) defines "telecommunication" as "communication at a distance (as by telephone)." Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary 906 (7th ed. 1971) defines "telecommunication" as "communication at a distance (as by cable, radio, telegraph, telephone, or television)."

The significance of this restricted statutory definition becomes apparent when the exception in A.R.S. section 9-582(A)(1) is restated in light of it.

Taking due account of A.R.S. section 9-581(4) and (6), section 9-582(A)(1) expressly permits political subdivisions to impose transaction privilege taxes on the business of transmitting (by means other than commercial mobile radio, pay telephone, or cable facilities) information of the user's choosing between or among points in Arizona specified by the user without change in form or content.

Thus understood, subsection (A)(1) effectively empowers political subdivisions to impose transaction privilege taxes on the business of providing traditional local telephone service via above- or below-ground facilities installed on public rights-of-way.

It is this specific, limited grant of authority that we must use to test the validity of the City's 1.5% tax under Tucson Code section 19-1070(a)(2).