[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 157 (Wednesday, August 14, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 49420-49422]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-19762]



47 CFR Part 32

[CC Docket Nos. 00-199 and 99-301; DA 13-1617]

Parties Asked To Refresh the Record Regarding Property Records 
for Rate-of-Return Carriers

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for additional comments.


SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission seeks comment to update the 
record in a 2001 pending rulemaking to assess whether there are changes 
the Commission can make to the property record rules that would reduce 
record-keeping burdens for rate-of-return carriers in light of 
regulatory and marketplace changes that have occurred since 2001.

DATES: Comments are due on or before September 13, 2013. Reply Comments 
are due on or before September 30, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by CC Docket Nos. 00-199 
and 99-301 by any of the following methods:
    [ssquf] Federal Communications Commission's Web site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting 
    [ssquf] People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: [email protected] or phone: 202-418-
0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marvin F. Sacks, Wireline Competition 
Bureau, Pricing Policy Division, (202) 418-1520 or (202) 418-0484 
(TTY), or via email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of 
the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may 
file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on 
the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the 
Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic 
Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121, May 1, 
    [ssquf] Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
    [ssquf] Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file 
an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or 
rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.
    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial 
overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service 
mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, 
Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
    [cir] All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for 
the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 
12th Street SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours 
are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together 
with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be 
disposed of before entering the building.
    [cir] Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
    [cir] U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail 
must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large

[[Page 49421]]

print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] 
or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 
(voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).
    The proceeding this Notice initiates shall be treated as a 
``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with the Commission's 
ex parte rules. Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy 
of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral 
presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a 
different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons 
making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda 
summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or 
otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte 
presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and 
arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted 
in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already 
reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda or other 
filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such 
data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other 
filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where 
such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the 
memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex 
parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must 
be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by 
rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of 
electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda 
summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, 
must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available 
for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., 
.doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding 
should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

I. Synopsis of Public Notice Seeking Additional Comment in Further 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    1. On May 10, 2013, the Commission adopted the USTelecom 
Forbearance Long Order, WC Docket No. 12-61 et. al, 28 FCC Rcd 7627, 
FCC 13-69 (2013). It granted conditional forbearance from section 
32.2000(e) and (f) (``property record rules'') to price cap carriers. 
However, it denied forbearance from those rules to rate-of-return 
carriers because, among other things, it concluded that property 
records enable the Commission to verify the accuracy of such carriers' 
costs, which impacts the reasonableness of their rates. However, in an 
effort to obtain a record sufficient to assess whether further 
Commission action on property records was proper, it sought to update 
the record received on those issues in an earlier, pending rulemaking 
on accounting and reporting matters. In that rulemaking, 2000 Biennial 
Regulatory Review, Comprehensive Review of the Accounting Requirements 
and ARMIS Reporting Requirements for Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers: 
Phase 2; Amendments to the Uniform System of Accounts for 
Interconnection, Jurisdictional Separations Reform and Referral to the 
Federal-State Joint Board, Local Competition and Broadband Reporting, 
67 FR 5704, Feb. 6, 2002 (Property Records FNPRM), the Commission 
sought comment on ``alternative approaches to streamline our [property 
records] rules.''
    2. In the USTelecom Forbearance Long Order, the Commission decided 
to refresh the record to assist in determining ``whether there are 
changes we can make to our property records rules that would reduce 
record-keeping burdens for rate-of-return carriers by focusing on 
substantial assets and investments while maintaining sufficiently 
detailed records for the Commission's needs.'' The Commission noted 
that there have been ``significant regulatory and marketplace changes 
[that] have occurred'' since 2001 when the Commission adopted the 
Property Records FNPRM. Therefore, the Commission directed the Wireline 
Competition Bureau to release a Public Notice, which the Commission did 
in DA 13-1617, requesting parties to comment on property records issues 
as they relate to rate-of-return carriers in light of such changes, 
including the USTelecom Forbearance Long Order.
    3. Consistent with the objective in the Property Records FNPRM 
noted above and the Commission's stated intent in the USTelecom 
Forbearance Long Order to examine what changes to the property records 
rules would reduce record-keeping burdens for rate-of-return carriers, 
we request comment on the feasibility of alternative approaches to 
property records requirements in rules 32.2000(e) and (f). We ask that 
parties suggesting alternatives: (1) Identify from which sections and 
subsections of rules 32.2000(e) and (f) are ``more burdensome than 
necessary;'' (2) Explain how rate-of-return carriers presently comply 
with property record requirements, describe the current burdens with 
specific costs if possible, and provide a cost-benefit analysis of any 
proposed rule changes; (3) Propose changes to the rules, including 
clearly stating which subsections should be deleted or modified, and if 
so, in what manner; (4) Explain how their alternative proposals would 
achieve the Commission's objectives to ensure just and reasonable rates 
and compliance with its universal service rules, and would provide 
adequate property record information in support of any requests for 
waiver of Commission rules; and (5) Explain how any changes to the 
rules would continue to allow independent auditors to reconcile 
property records to the carriers' general ledgers and provide audit 
assurance that carriers are meeting regulatory accounting requirements.
    4. With respect to the third point above, we request specific 
examples of the level of detail and type of information that should be 
maintained, and what information is of limited or no value to achieving 
the Commission's objectives. If there are examples of less burdensome 
property record rules that are applicable to regulated companies in 
other industries, we seek more information about these rules and 
whether they could be applied to rate-of-return carriers in the 
telecommunications industry. Further, we seek comment on alternative 
approaches, including whether and how possible changes to retirement 
units might reduce record-keeping burdens. We note that the current 
rules allow for some flexibility in the maintenance of property 
records. For example, section 32.2000(f)(2) states that companies may 
request a revision to the list of retirement units used in the basic 
property records, or exemption from the retirement units previously 
used. Therefore, we seek input on how our rules on retirement units 
might be changed to ease the record-keeping burden.
    5. With regard to the fourth point above, we request that parties 
suggesting alternatives to our present requirements explain in detail 
how rate-of-return carriers would maintain property records going 
forward under any new system in a manner that would enable the 
Commission to satisfy its statutory responsibility to ensure just and 
reasonable rates, particularly considering that rate-of-return 
carriers' rates are directly tied to the cost of their investment. For 
example, would the conditional forbearance we granted to price cap 
carriers in the USTelecom Forbearance Long Order enable the Commission 
to satisfy this statutory obligation for rate-of-return carriers? We

[[Page 49422]]

also request that commenters address how such alternatives would be 
sufficient to verify expenditures that are supported under the 
universal service high-cost program rules. We also generally ask 
parties to demonstrate how their alternative approach would satisfy 
basic requirements of property records.
    6. The USTelecom Forbearance Long Order sought comments and reply 
comments refreshing the record 30 days and 45 days, respectively, after 
the accompanying Report and Order eliminating CEI/ONA narrowband 
reporting requirements was published in the Federal Register, 78 FR 
39617, July 2, 2013. Thus the comment deadline would have been Aug. 1, 
2013 and the reply comment deadline would have been Aug. 16, 2013. To 
ensure all interested parties have a sufficient opportunity to consider 
and respond to the issues identified above, comment and reply comments 
dates were extended in the Public Notice to 30 days and 45 days after 
this Federal Register document is published. The new comment due dates 
are set forth under the DATES section above.

II. Procedural Matters

A. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    7. Document DA 13-1617 does not contain proposed information 
collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 
Public Law 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any 
proposed information collection burden ``for small business concerns 
with fewer than 25 employees,'' pursuant to the Small Business 
Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198. See 44 U.S.C. 
3506(c)(4). However, the original notice in this proceeding contained 
information collections subject to the PRA. We invite updated comments 
on the information collections proposed in this docket.

B. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    8. As discussed above, this Public Notice asks parties to refresh 
the record in the Property Records FNPRM proceeding with respect to the 
property records rules for rate-of-return carriers. The Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for that proceeding is found at 
Appendix H of the Property Records FNPRM. We invite comment on the IRFA 
in light of developments since the issuance of the original IRFA.
    9. For further information, please contact Marvin F. Sacks, 
Wireline Competition Bureau, Pricing Policy Division, at (202) 418-1520 
or via email at [email protected].

Federal Communications Commission.
Elizabeth McIntyre,
Deputy Division Chief, Pricing Policy Division, Wireline Competition 
[FR Doc. 2013-19762 Filed 8-13-13; 8:45 am]