A person, firm, or corporation seeking to become a telephone company, as defined by section 237.01, subdivision 7, and not required to be certified under section 237.16, shall register with the department and the commission 90 days before beginning operation in the state. The commission may review the proposed rates and services and the financial conditions of the telephone company and may, under section 237.081, investigate any other matter it considers appropriate to protect the public interest. A telephone company that has been authorized by the commission to provide telephone services in this state prior to August 1, 1987, is not required to register under this subdivision. A person, firm, or corporation seeking to offer a noncompetitive service to the public must obtain authority from the commission under section 237.16.
Telephone companies that have registered under subdivision 1 shall maintain a bond if the company requires advance payments or deposits from its customers, unless waived by the commission. The bond must be issued by a surety company admitted to do business in this state in the principal sum of all deposits and advance payments to be held by the company. The department shall determine the amount of the bond and may require the company to supply information to determine the appropriate amount of the bond. The bond must be in favor of the state for the benefit of any customer who suffers the loss of a deposit or advance payment due to insolvency, cessation of business, or failure to return any unused portion of the deposit or advance payment. The bond must be filed with the department.