[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 131 (Monday, July 9, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 31659-31677]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-14570]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Parts 51, 63, and 68

[WC Docket No. 17-84; FCC 18-74]


Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers 
to Infrastructure Investment

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Final rule; announcement of effective date.

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SUMMARY: In this document, a Second Report and Order takes a number of 
actions to accelerate the deployment of next-generation networks and 
services through removing barriers to infrastructure investment. The 
Second Report and Order takes further action to revise the 
discontinuance process, network change notification processes, and the 
customer notice process. It also forbears from applying discontinuance 
requirements for services with no customers and no reasonable requests 
for service during the preceding 30 days.

DATES: This rule is effective August 8, 2018, except for the amendments 
to 47 CFR 51.333(g)(1)(i), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(2), 63.71(f), (h), (k) 
introductory text, (k)(1) and (3), and (l), which contain information 
collection requirements that have not been approved by OMB. The Federal 
Communications Commission will publish a document in the Federal 
Register announcing the effective date. The amendments to 47 CFR 
63.19(a) introductory text published at 81 FR 62656, Sept. 12, 2016, 
are effective August 8, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wireline Competition Bureau, 
Competition Policy Division, Michele Berlove, at (202) 418-1477, 
michele.berlove@fcc.gov. For additional information concerning the 
Paperwork Reduction Act information collection requirements contained 
in this document, send an email to PRA@fcc.gov or contact Nicole Ongele 
at (202) 418-2991.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Second 
Report and Order in WC Docket No. 17-84, FCC 18-74, adopted June 7, 
2018 and released June 8, 2018. The full text of this document is 
available for public inspection during regular business hours in the 
FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street SW, Room 
CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. It is available on the Commission's 
website at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-18-74A1.pdf.

Synopsis

I. Introduction

    1. Removing regulatory barriers causing unnecessary costs or delay 
when carriers seek to transition from legacy networks and services to 
broadband networks and services is an important piece of our work to 
encourage deployment of next-generation networks and to close the 
digital divide. In this Report and Order, we continue to act on our 
commitment by further reforming regulatory processes that unnecessarily 
stand in the way of this important transition that benefits the 
American public.
    2. The actions we take today focus on further streamlining our 
processes by which carriers discontinue outdated services, eliminating 
unnecessary and burdensome or redundant requirements, and helping 
ensure that our network

[[Page 31660]]

change notification rules take into account the challenges carriers 
face in the wake of catastrophic and unforeseen events. Providing 
additional opportunities for streamlined treatment for discontinuance 
and grandfathering of legacy voice and lower-speed data services and 
forbearing from applying our discontinuance requirements to services no 
longer being used by any customers, with appropriate limitations to 
protect consumers and the public interest, will allow carriers to more 
quickly redirect resources to next-generation networks and for the 
public to receive the benefits of those new networks.

II. Background

    3. The Commission initiated this proceeding last spring by adopting 
a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Notice of Inquiry, and Request for 
Comment (Wireline Infrastructure NPRM) seeking comment on a number of 
potential regulatory reforms to our rules and procedures regarding pole 
attachments, copper retirement, and discontinuances of legacy services. 
The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on May 16, 2017 (82 FR 
22453).
    4. On November 16, 2017, the Commission adopted a Report and Order, 
Declaratory Ruling, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Wireline 
Infrastructure Order) enacting reforms to our pole attachment, network 
change disclosure, and discontinuance processes to better enable 
providers to invest in next-generation networks. The Order was 
published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2017 (82 FR 61453). 
At the same time, the Commission adopted the Wireline Infrastructure 
FNPRM and sought comment on additional steps to streamline our network 
change and discontinuance processes, including with respect to 
discontinuing legacy voice services. At this time, in the interest of 
removing barriers to broadband infrastructure deployment as quickly as 
possible, we focus specifically on continuing to reform our 
discontinuance and network change notification rules. We are committed 
to and working toward addressing other important issues raised by the 
Wireline Infrastructure FNPRM and for which the Commission's Broadband 
Deployment Advisory Committee offered recommendations, including 
revisions to our pole attachment rules. We expect to address those 
issues in the near future.

III. Report and Order

A. Further Streamlining the Section 214(a) Discontinuance Process

    5. Today, we take additional steps to eliminate unnecessary 
regulatory burdens when carriers decide to replace legacy voice and 
lower-speed data services with improved technological alternatives. The 
reforms we adopt here, like those adopted late last year, reflect the 
reality of today's marketplace and the decreasing demand for legacy 
voice and lower-speed data services as customers move towards more 
advanced competing alternatives. As demand for legacy services 
declines, expediting the discontinuance process for such services will 
allow carriers to focus their resources on providing next-generation 
IP-based services. The revisions we make today to our rules 
implementing the section 214(a) discontinuance approval process 
decrease needless costs and delay in transitioning from legacy voice 
services and lower-speed data services to next-generation IP-based 
services so that customers can receive innovative services that meet 
their needs. As a matter of convenience, unless otherwise noted, in 
this Report and Order, we use the terms ``discontinue'' or 
``discontinuance'' as a shorthand for the statutory language 
``discontinue, reduce, or impair.''
    6. At the outset, we reiterate that section 214(a)'s discontinuance 
obligations apply to interstate voice and data telecommunications 
services, and to interconnected VoIP service to which the Commission 
has extended section 214(a)'s discontinuance requirements. Our rules 
governing the discontinuance process do not preempt state requirements 
regarding the discontinuance of intrastate services. They do not apply 
to any carrier's provision of information services, to data or other 
services offered on a private carriage basis, or to any other 
communications or non-communications lines of business in which a 
carrier is engaged that do not come within the purview of Title II of 
the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act).
1. Expediting Applications That Grandfather, or Discontinue Previously-
Grandfathered, Data Services at Speeds Below 25/3 Mbps
    7. To encourage carriers to transition to next-generation 
technologies, and to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens and costs 
that would otherwise be imposed on carriers as part of a technology 
transition, we revise our rules to provide streamlined treatment for 
lower-speed services in circumstances where the carrier already 
provides replacement data services at speeds of at least 25 Mbps/3 
Mbps. Specifically, we streamline our discontinuance processes for 
applications seeking to (i) grandfather data services with download/
upload speeds below 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, and (ii) subsequently discontinue 
on a permanent basis such data services once they have been 
grandfathered for at least 180 days. Previously, the Commission adopted 
streamlined comment and automatic grant periods of 10 and 25 days, 
respectively, for applications to grandfather voice and data services 
below 1.544 Mbps. We now extend this same streamlined treatment to 
applications seeking to grandfather data services with speeds below 25 
Mbps/3 Mbps, so long as the applying carrier provides fixed replacement 
data services at speeds of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps throughout the 
affected service area. We recognize that data services subject to 
section 214 discontinuance authority typically have symmetrical upload 
and download speeds. We nevertheless specify a non-symmetrical speed 
threshold here to provide maximum flexibility to carriers to the extent 
they now or in the future offer any non-symmetrical common carrier data 
service having download speeds less than 25 Mbps and upload speeds less 
than 3 Mbps that is subject to our discontinuance rules. The Commission 
also previously adopted streamlined comment and automatic grant periods 
of 10 and 31 days, respectively, for applications to permanently 
discontinue data services below 1.544 Mbps, provided the Commission has 
previously authorized such services to be grandfathered for at least 
the prior 180-day period. We now revise our rules to provide the same 
expedited 10-day comment and 31-day automatic grant periods to all 
previously-grandfathered data services with download/upload speeds 
below 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.
    8. The record strongly supports extending this streamlined 
processing to these additional grandfathered and previously-
grandfathered data services. Most importantly, these streamlining 
measures meet our objective of providing carriers with incentives to 
develop and deploy higher-speed data services at or above 25 Mbps/3 
Mbps. Expediting the discontinuance process for additional data 
services provided that the carrier offers replacement data services at 
or above our specified speed threshold will spur the ongoing technology 
transition to next-generation IP-based services and promote

[[Page 31661]]

competition in the market for higher-speed replacement services.
    9. We reject some commenters' suggestion that extending the 
streamlined treatment to this class of data services ``does not strike 
the appropriate balance between providing carriers flexibility and 
ensuring that customers have access to adequate alternatives.'' Because 
carriers seeking to use this streamlined process must provide 
replacement data services at speeds of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps 
throughout the affected service area, concerns about adequate 
alternatives are misplaced. Moreover, as other commenters recognize, 
extending our expedited discontinuance process to cover additional 
grandfathered and previously-grandfathered data services below 25 Mbps/
3 Mbps protects existing customers in the same manner as our expedited 
process for grandfathered and previously-grandfathered low-speed legacy 
voice and data services. Commenters also note that more flexible speed 
thresholds are justified by the fact that grandfathering has no impact 
on existing services. We have thus heeded concerns that we proceed with 
caution in extending relief to higher speed data services. Existing 
customers will be grandfathered and they will have sufficient time to 
raise concerns, if any, about the carrier's grandfathering plans if 
they are impacted. What's more, the grandfathering period provides 
customers a far longer actual notice period and opportunity to 
transition to alternative services than our existing, more general, 
streamlined processing rules. It also provides us with sufficient time 
to conduct a thorough examination as to whether the proposed 
discontinuance would adversely affect the present or future public 
convenience and necessity during the application review process.
    10. Carriers, of course, remain free to seek approval to 
discontinue a data service below 25 Mbps/3 Mbps without first 
grandfathering such service. But if they choose to do so, they are not 
eligible for the further streamlined processing we adopt today for 
previously-grandfathered data services below this speed threshold. Our 
further streamlining actions reflect common-sense reforms that balance 
the needs of customers and carriers in fulfilling our section 214(a) 
discontinuance obligations.
    11. The Commission proposed the 25 Mbps/3 Mbps threshold in the 
Wireline Infrastructure FNPRM to encourage and incentivize carriers 
seeking to discontinue lower-speed services to deploy and offer data 
services meeting our current benchmark for fixed advanced 
telecommunications capability under section 706 of the Act. A data 
service having download/upload speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps ``enables users 
to originate and receive high quality voice, data, graphics, and video 
telecommunications.'' If the discontinuing carrier offers replacement 
data services at speeds of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, then the 
streamlined discontinuance process serves as an additional tool to 
close the digital divide by ensuring customers in the affected area 
have access to fixed services offering advanced telecommunications 
capability. We find that limiting the extension of expedited treatment 
for grandfathered and previously-grandfathered services to data 
services below 25 Mbps/3 Mbps strikes the appropriate balance at this 
time to provide regulatory relief to incentivize carriers to transition 
from the provision of legacy or lower-speed data services and allow 
them to free up resources to devote to higher-speed more advanced 
services. We thus decline at present to extend these same streamlining 
measures to certain higher-speed data services or ``all data services 
regardless of speed.'' We proceed incrementally to focus regulatory 
relief where it is most needed first--on lower-speed data services for 
which customer demand is rapidly declining.
    12. Similarly, we decline requests to apply an expedited 
discontinuance process where the proposed replacement data services are 
below 25 Mbps/3 Mbps as long as the discontinuing carrier offers 
``another data service of at least the same . . . speed throughout the 
affected service area as the service being discontinued.'' Allowing 
carriers that do not commit to provide replacement data services having 
speeds of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps to qualify for this streamlined 
treatment would not encourage carriers to deploy and offer data 
services meeting at least our current benchmark speed threshold for 
fixed advanced telecommunications capability of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps. As the 
Commission has explained, data services having download/upload speeds 
of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps ``enable[ ] users to originate and receive high 
quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications''--
capabilities that consumers demand. We recognize commenter concerns 
that a higher-speed data service may be more costly than a service 
providing speeds of less than 25 Mbps/3 Mbps. However, this is 
precisely the type of concern that can be addressed during the section 
214 discontinuance public comment period. We also note that while the 
cost of the replacement service might be outweighed by other 
considerations, the Commission will consider whether the price for the 
replacement service is so high as to be unaffordable to most users.
    13. In the Wireline Infrastructure FNPRM, the Commission proposed 
specifying that the replacement data service at or above 25 Mbps/3 Mbps 
that an applicant must provide to qualify for streamlined treatment 
must be of ``equivalent quality.'' We decline to adopt the ``equivalent 
quality'' descriptive language in the condition to qualify for 
streamlined treatment. In proposing that the replacement data service 
be of ``equivalent quality,'' the Commission did not intend to impose 
new rigid or prescriptive requirements on replacement services at or 
above 25 Mbps/3 Mbps that a carrier must meet to obtain streamlined 
processing to grandfather these additional data services. We note that 
no commenter objects to Verizon's request that we eliminate this 
qualifier in extending streamlined processing to additional data 
services below 25 Mbps/3 Mbps. We do not intend to modify our existing 
precedent governing the requirements of a replacement service or how we 
analyze and evaluate a carrier's application under our traditional 
five-factor test. For example, Commission precedent does not require 
that a replacement service constitute a like-for-like alternative to 
the service being discontinued. In determining whether a discontinuance 
will harm the public interest, the Commission has traditionally 
utilized a five-factor balancing test to analyze a section 214(a) 
discontinuance application: (1) The financial impact on the common 
carrier of continuing to provide the service; (2) the need for the 
service in general; (3) the need for the particular facilities in 
question; (4) increased charges for alternative services; and (5) the 
existence, availability, and adequacy of alternatives. We agree that 
including the ``equivalent quality'' descriptor in the condition 
requiring the carrier's availability of a replacement data service at 
or above 25 Mbps/3 Mbps would inject unintended uncertainty into this 
streamlined process and could lead to further confusion given the 
absence of a similar descriptor as a condition for grandfathering data 
services below 1.544 Mbps. We clarify that the adequacy of the 
alternative data service offered by the carrier will continue to be 
evaluated like any other replacement data service under our rules--
according to our traditional five-

[[Page 31662]]

factor test, and consistent with precedent.
    14. Finally, Windstream and Ad Hoc urge us again to incorporate 
specific prescribed safeguards in any further streamlining of data 
service applications to protect grandfathered business customers. The 
Commission rejected these same recommendations in its most recent 
wireline infrastructure item because they are inconsistent with the 
goal of streamlining processes and because businesses--like other 
consumers--benefit overall when carriers invest in deployment of next-
generation services rather than outdated technologies. There is nothing 
in the current record that leads us to a different conclusion. We 
therefore decline to adopt these proposals here, as the Commission did 
just over six months ago.
2. Forbearing From Applying Discontinuance Approval Obligations for 
Services With No Customers
    15. We forbear from applying the discontinuance approval 
obligations set forth in section 214(a) of the Act and section 63.60 
through 63.602 of our rules to carriers choosing to discontinue 
services for which the carrier has had no customers and no reasonable 
requests for service for at least the immediately preceding 30 days. 
When we refer to services without customers in this subsection, we are 
referring to applications for services having both no existing 
customers and no reasonable request for the service for the preceding 
30-day period. The Commission exercised its ancillary authority to 
extend discontinuance obligations to interconnected VoIP providers. We 
see no reason to treat interconnected VoIP services subject to our 
discontinuance authority prior to today differently than 
telecommunications services having no customers for the purpose of this 
forbearance relief. In so doing, we relieve carries of the burden of 
filing discontinuance applications and leave them free to focus their 
funding and attention on newer, more popular services rather than 
maintain a service for which there is no demand during the pendency of 
a discontinuance application. This action does not impact the 
requirements associated with emergency discontinuances where a 
carrier's existing customers are without service for a period of time 
exceeding 30 days. The rules governing such occurrences are separately 
set forth in section 63.63 of our rules. Section 63.63's requirements 
will continue to govern such situations.
    16. The Act requires us to forbear from applying any requirement of 
the Act or of our regulations to a telecommunications carrier or 
telecommunications service if and only if we determine that: (1) 
Enforcement of the requirement is not necessary to ensure that the 
charges, practices, classifications, or regulations by, for, or in 
connection with that telecommunications carrier or telecommunications 
service are just and reasonable and are not unjustly or unreasonably 
discriminatory; (2) enforcement of that requirement is not necessary 
for the protection of consumers; and (3) forbearance from applying that 
requirement is consistent with the public interest. In making the 
public interest determination, we must also consider, pursuant to 
section 10(b) of the Act, ``whether forbearance from enforcing the 
provision or regulation will promote competitive market conditions.'' 
As discussed below, we find that the criteria for forbearance are 
satisfied here.
    17. Section 10(a)(1). We agree with commenters that ``[w]hen a 
service has no customers, it necessarily follows that the section 214 
discontinuance processes are not necessary to ensure just and 
reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms of service . . . for the simple 
reason that customers have demonstrated by their actions in the 
marketplace that they do not need or want the service.'' Thus, we find 
enforcement of the discontinuance requirements in this context could 
hardly be ``necessary'' when, in fact, there are ``no subscribers who 
pay charges or who are subject to `practices' or other terms.''
    18. Section 10(a)(2). We find that enforcement of the 
discontinuance obligations in this context is not necessary to protect 
consumers. Section 214(a)'s discontinuance provision is meant to 
prevent communities from being deprived of critical links to the larger 
public communications infrastructure. When a service with no existing 
customers is eliminated, it follows that ``no community or part of a 
community would be cut off from the public communications 
infrastructure.'' Moreover, although a key component of the section 
214(a) discontinuance process is notifying all affected customers, we 
agree with AT&T that attempts at customer notice ``would be futile in 
the context of services without existing customers.''
    19. CWA's assertion that it is only through Commission review and 
public comment during the discontinuance process that the Commission 
can determine whether a service has no customers is at odds with our 
experience with discontinuance applications for services identified as 
having no customers. To date, we have not received a single comment in 
opposition to any application to discontinue service with no customers. 
We previously took more incremental steps to streamline discontinuance 
obligations for certain services with no customers, and the record does 
not identify any harms that arose as a result. In the Wireline 
Infrastructure FNPRM, the Commission revised its rules so that 
applications to discontinue legacy voice and data services below 1.544 
Mbps that have had no customers and no reasonable requests for service 
for at least 30 days would be automatically granted 15 days after 
acceptance for filing absent further action by Commission staff to 
remove the application from streamlined treatment. Moreover, there is 
no evidence in the current record that services without customers are 
likely to be in demand sometime in the future. Therefore, we find that 
neither current nor future customers will be harmed by forbearing from 
applying discontinuance obligations for services with no customers.
    20. Section 10(a)(3) and 10(b). We agree with commenters that 
forbearance from the discontinuance approval requirements for services 
with no customers will serve the public interest by ``eliminating 
superfluous regulation that slows the transition to more modern 
services'' with growing demand for services that customers want to 
purchase. We also find that forbearance in this instance will promote 
competitive market conditions by enabling carriers to redirect 
resources from services with no demand to more rapidly bringing next-
generation services and networks to all customers or ``other endeavors 
where the public interest is expressed through consumer demand.'' 
Freeing carriers to invest in services people want, instead of services 
nobody wants, promotes competition and benefits the public.
    21. Our decision to forbear from the discontinuance requirements 
for services with no customers, obviates our need to consider further 
streamlining applications for discontinuance of services with no 
customers. For the same reason, it obviates the rationale for the 
Commission's previous decision to streamline applications for certain 
services with no customers. We therefore revise the present text of 
section 63.71(g) and remove section 63.71(k)(5), which created varying 
degrees of streamlining for discontinuance applications for services 
with no customers. We take this action to make clear to carriers that 
they need

[[Page 31663]]

not file an application to discontinue a service for which they have 
had no customers and no reasonable requests for service during the 30-
day period immediately preceding the discontinuance.
3. Eliminating 2016 Outreach Requirements
    22. We also eliminate the uncodified education and outreach 
mandates adopted in the 2016 Technology Transitions Order applicable to 
carriers discontinuing TDM voice services. These education and outreach 
requirements are not yet in effect because they have not been approved 
by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB approval process 
is a transparent and public process. The record confirms that these 
requirements are unduly burdensome in light of current marketplace 
incentives and carriers' normal business practices of providing their 
customers with timely and necessary information regarding replacement 
voice services in a technology transition. These mandates include: (1) 
The development and dissemination of Commission-prescribed educational 
materials to all affected customers containing specific information 
about the replacement service; (2) the creation of an accessible 
telephone hotline, staffed 12 hours per day, to answer questions 
regarding the transition; and (3) designated staff, trained in 
disabilities access issues, to answer consumer questions about the 
technology transition. Moreover, existing regulatory requirements 
ensure that such information is available to consumers.
    23. We agree with commenters that argue that service providers have 
strong marketplace incentives to communicate with, and educate, 
customers about replacement services related to their technology 
transitions. As the Commission found in the Wireline Infrastructure 
Order, intermodal competition encourages carriers to communicate with 
customers to retain them and stay competitive. This finding is not 
surprising, as even the 2016 Technology Transitions Order acknowledged 
carriers ``strong business incentives to answer customers' questions in 
a competent and timely manner.'' The record here further substantiates 
this finding and belies the claims that marketplace competition or 
carriers' existing customer relationships may not ensure that carriers 
provide the information required by the rules. Indeed, one opponent of 
eliminating the outreach requirements specifically acknowledges that 
carriers have made ``comprehensive, and multi-faceted'' efforts to 
educate and inform consumers in a technology transitions situation even 
before the adoption of the 2016 requirements. Another opponent 
mistakenly credits the 2016 outreach mandates with helping achieve the 
``relatively smooth and seamless'' technology transitions in its state. 
However, because the 2016 outreach requirements are not yet effective, 
the commenter's observations actually demonstrate that carriers engage 
in effective customer communications about their technology transitions 
without the need for mandatory prescriptive requirements. Opponents of 
eliminating the 2016 outreach requirements fail to offer any examples 
of ``any actual harms for the requirements to redress.''
    24. In the face of carriers' incentives to communicate with 
customers, one-size-fits-all regulatory intrusion is unnecessarily 
burdensome. We disagree with those commenters that claim that the 2016 
requirements provide consumers with ``the minimum amount of 
information'' they need to transition from legacy to alternative 
services and provide carriers ``with a flexible blueprint to follow.'' 
The record demonstrates that the 2016 outreach obligations translate to 
a long list of inflexible and burdensome mandates. We are therefore 
persuaded by those commenters that argue that the outreach requirements 
impose real, and in some cases, quite burdensome, costs on service 
providers.
    25. Furthermore, our discontinuance obligations and accessibility 
and 911 rules also protect customers by requiring their carriers to 
provide timely and necessary information regarding replacement voice 
services when those carriers seek to cease offering legacy TDM voice 
service. The Commission extended section 255 accessibility requirements 
to interconnected VoIP services in 2007. For example, our rules require 
carriers seeking to discontinue a legacy voice service to provide 
substantially similar information about available replacement service 
alternatives in their application, including price, as the separate 
outreach requirement mandates. The Commission also puts discontinuance 
applications on public notice, thus triggering its discontinuance 
review process which gives affected customers the opportunity to 
comment or object to the application. Carriers also must ensure, 
through accessible call centers and customer support--akin to the 2016 
telephone hotline accessibility requirement--that information about 
their voice services and accessibility features are accessible to 
individuals with disabilities at no additional cost. Carriers must also 
train customer service representatives to communicate with individuals 
with disabilities in order to comply with our accessibility rules. In 
developing training programs, carriers ``are encouraged to consider 
topics on accessibility requirements, means of communicating with 
individuals with disabilities, commonly used adaptive technology, 
designing for accessibility, and solutions for accessibility and 
compatibility.''
    26. If customers facing a discontinuance of their legacy voice 
service do not believe that they have sufficient information about a 
replacement service from a carrier seeking Commission approval to 
discontinue a legacy voice service, then they can raise these issues in 
objections to the carrier's discontinuance application and seek to have 
the Commission remove the application from streamlined processing. 
Thus, the discontinuance process provides an additional backstop that 
encourages carriers to communicate with their customers up-front. We 
agree with USTelecom that ``there is no evidence in the record that 
existing applicable notice requirements are inadequate to notify 
consumers of service changes.'' Consequently, we find it unnecessary to 
continue to impose prescriptive outreach obligations when our rules 
already obligate carriers to ensure that customers are appropriately 
informed. We reject the argument that we should retain the education 
and outreach requirements because ``public safety and public welfare 
are at stake'' when carriers transition from legacy TDM voice to IP-
based or other voice technologies. These objections are irrelevant here 
because they concern the circumstances in which transitions are 
permitted, rather than education and outreach requirements concerning 
those transitions. We note that the Act and our existing rules protect 
vulnerable consumers during technology transitions--for instance, voice 
service providers have independent consumer protection obligations 
addressing important accessibility and public safety issues, even when 
they use IP to deliver their voice services.
    27. PK/CRS state that ``the test to eliminate these rules is not 
simply whether they impose cost but whether the public understands what 
is going on, [and] maintains critical services.'' Our decision to 
eliminate these outreach rules meets that ``test.'' The record reflects 
that carriers' ongoing customer relationship experience best positions 
them, not the Commission, to understand and implement effective

[[Page 31664]]

customer education and communications strategies, and other rules 
ensure that carriers make available necessary information regarding 
replacement voice services when those carriers seek to cease offering 
legacy TDM voice service. We thus disagree with commenters that assert 
that the education requirements remain necessary and that absent such 
requirements carriers are unlikely to provide the information customers 
need to understand the changes in their legacy voice services without 
these enforceable outreach requirements.
    28. What's more, by eliminating these prescriptive and unnecessary 
requirements, we help accelerate the important and ongoing process of 
technology transitions to next-generation IP-based services and 
networks by significantly reducing additional costs and unnecessary 
regulatory burdens that would be imposed on carriers as part of this 
transition. Eliminating unnecessary costs and burdens having scant 
apparent countervailing benefits, frees up carrier resources to devote 
to a more rapid and efficient transition to next-generation networks 
and services. Apart from duplicating information already provided to 
customers through normal business practices or other Commission 
requirements, one carrier submits that this ``exhaustive information'' 
may so overwhelm its customers that they ignore it altogether. At the 
same time, we reiterate that we expect and encourage carriers to 
continue to collaborate with and educate their customers and state 
entities to ensure that customers are given sufficient time to 
accommodate the transition to new technologies, such that key 
functionalities are not lost during this period of change.
4. Streamlining Applications To Discontinue Legacy Voice Services
    29. In the interest of further encouraging deployment of next-
generation networks, we amend our rules to allow carriers to use either 
the ``adequate replacement test'' or a new ``alternative options test'' 
to qualify for streamlined treatment of applications to discontinue 
legacy voice services. Under the adequate replacement test, 
applications seeking to discontinue a legacy TDM-based voice service as 
part of a transition to a newer technology, such as VoIP, wireless, or 
some other advanced service (technology transition discontinuance 
applications), are required to satisfy a three-pronged test in order to 
be entitled to streamlined treatment. Specifically, the adequate 
replacement test requires a technology transition discontinuance 
application to ``certify[ ] or show[ ] that one or more replacement 
service(s) offers all of the following: (i) Substantially similar 
levels of network infrastructure and service quality as the applicant 
service; (ii) compliance with existing federal and/or industry 
standards required to ensure that critical applications such as 911, 
network security, and applications for individuals with disabilities 
remain available; and (iii) interoperability and compatibility with an 
enumerated list of applications and functionalities determined to be 
key to consumers and competitors.'' We clarify that we are not making 
any findings that the stand-alone interconnected VoIP service necessary 
for the discontinuing carrier to meet the first prong of the test and 
whatever alternative voice service(s) meets the second prong of the 
test are necessarily substitutes or in the same product market for all 
potential customers in the affected service area. Rather, we merely 
intend to ensure that under this streamlined test, the community has, 
at a minimum, at least one alternative voice service to the 
discontinuing carrier's replacement service, as distinguished from the 
adequate replacement test where only a single voice replacement service 
need be available to meet that test. We also further streamline 
applications to grandfather legacy voice services at or above speeds of 
1.544 Mbps.
    30. New Streamlining Option. Under the new alternative options 
test, if a discontinuing carrier shows in its application that (1) it 
provides a stand-alone interconnected VoIP service throughout the 
affected service area, and (2) at least one other stand-alone 
facilities-based voice service is available from another provider 
throughout the affected service area, the discontinuance application 
will be entitled to 15-day comment and 31-day automatic grant 
processing periods unless the Commission notifies the applicant 
otherwise. For purposes of the option for streamlined treatment of 
applications to discontinue legacy voice services that we adopt today, 
``stand-alone'' means that a customer is not required to purchase a 
separate broadband service to access the voice service. 
``Interconnected VoIP'' is defined in section 9.3 of our rules. To be 
clear, while over-the-top VoIP can meet the definition of 
interconnected VoIP in section 9.3 of our rules, it does not satisfy 
the requirement of ``stand-alone'' for purposes of the alternative 
streamlined option we adopt today. The provider of the alternative 
stand-alone facilities-based voice service must be unaffiliated with 
the discontinuing carrier. These streamlined processing timeframes 
apply uniformly to all carriers meeting the alternative options test, 
regardless of whether the carrier is considered dominant or non-
dominant with respect to the legacy voice service it is seeking to 
discontinue. Thus, for example, to the extent incumbent LECs offer 
enterprise voice services such as ISDN PRI over legacy TDM special 
access facilities for which they are still considered dominant and 
otherwise subject to the longer dominant carrier processing timeframes 
of 30/60 days, they now will be entitled to the 15/31 day processing 
periods under the option we adopt today.
    31. Importantly, the alternative options test complements, rather 
than replaces, the adequate replacement test adopted in the 2016 
Technology Transitions Order. Pursuant to the adequate replacement 
test, an applicant can receive streamlined treatment by demonstrating 
that a single adequate replacement service exists in the affected 
service area.
    32. As the record, and our own data, clearly demonstrate, the 
number of switched access lines has ``continued to plummet,'' while the 
``number of interconnected VoIP and mobile voice subscriptions have 
continued to climb.'' According to the most recent statistics released 
by the Commission's Industry Analysis and Technology Division of the 
Wireline Competition Bureau, there were 58 million traditional 
``switched access'' lines in service, 63 million interconnected VoIP 
subscriptions, and 341 million mobile subscriptions in the United 
States as of December 2016. These figures represented a three-year 
compound annual growth rate of 10 percent for interconnected VoIP 
subscriptions and 3 percent for mobile voice subscriptions, while 
retail switched access lines declined at 12 percent per year over the 
same period. The record also shows strong support for further 
streamlining the section 214(a) discontinuance process for legacy voice 
services for carriers in the midst of a technology transition. By 
providing additional opportunities to streamline the discontinuance 
process for legacy voice services, with appropriate limitations to 
protect consumers and the public interest, we allow carriers to more 
quickly redirect resources to next-generation networks, and the public 
to receive the benefit of those new networks.
    33. Some commenters urge us to eliminate the adequate replacement 
test in favor of a simpler approach to streamlined treatment of 
applications to discontinue legacy voice services.

[[Page 31665]]

Others urge us to retain the adequate replacement test, expressing 
concerns about the potential impact on, for example, utilities and 
vulnerable populations.
    34. We find the better course is to retain the adequate replacement 
test and give applicants the choice of seeking streamlined treatment 
under either the adequate replacement test or the alternative options 
test. This action is consistent with the Commission's requests for 
comment on ways to further streamline the discontinuance process for 
legacy voice services. Applicants seeking streamlined treatment under 
the adequate replacement test must engage in testing and other 
regulatory compliance obligations to demonstrate the existence of at 
least one adequate replacement service. In addition, the streamlined 
treatment afforded such carriers depends on whether they are treated as 
dominant or non-dominant with respect to the legacy voice service they 
are seeking to discontinue. By contrast, applicants seeking streamlined 
treatment under the alternative options test must themselves offer 
stand-alone interconnected VoIP, and at least one other stand-alone 
facilities-based voice service must be available from another 
unaffiliated provider throughout the affected service area. Where only 
one potential replacement service exists, a carrier must meet the more 
rigorous demands of the adequate replacement test in order to receive 
streamlined treatment of its discontinuance application. But where 
there is more than one facilities-based alternative, at least one of 
which is a stand-alone interconnected VoIP offering provided by the 
discontinuing carrier, we expect customers will benefit from 
competition between facilities-based providers. For example, where the 
alternative voice option is another facilities-based VoIP service 
offered by a competing wireline provider, consumers will benefit from 
both choice and competition between the two providers. The stand-alone 
interconnected VoIP service option required to meet the alternative 
options test embodies managed service quality and underlying network 
infrastructure, and disabilities access and 911 access requirements, 
key components of the Commission's 2016 streamlining action. The 
managed nature of the stand-alone interconnected VoIP service option 
embodies the concept articulated in the 2016 Technology Transitions 
Order that ``consumers expect and deserve a replacement that will 
provide comparable network quality and service performance.'' Because 
state commissions will continue to receive notices of planned 
discontinuances, they will also remain in a position ``to bring to our 
attention the effects of discontinuances upon customers who may be 
unable themselves to inform us that they lack substitute service.'' In 
such instances, we have the ability to delay grant of discontinuance 
authorization if we believe customers would otherwise face an 
unreasonable degree of hardship. The two parts of the alternative 
options test thus address commenters' concerns about potentially 
inadequate mobile wireless replacement services for customers requiring 
service quality guarantees and their concerns that vulnerable 
populations will be unable to use specialized equipment for people with 
disabilities, such as TTYs or analog captioned telephone devices or 
will be left without access to 911. As a result, under either test, 
customers will be assured a smooth transition to a voice replacement 
service that provides capabilities comparable to legacy TDM-based voice 
services and, often, numerous additional advanced capabilities. This 
action is also consistent with the Commission's finding in the 
Competitive Carrier proceeding that ``simplifying applications for 
discontinuance of service, when service alternatives are likely to 
exist, is consistent with congressional intent.'' At least one 
commenter has asked that we include a requirement that the services 
that meet the alternative options test are interoperable with third-
party devices and services such as alarm monitoring services. We are 
unconvinced of the necessity for such a requirement. As the Commission 
previously found, ``there is significant intermodal competition in the 
provision of alarm monitoring services, including provision of such 
services over media other than copper.'' Moreover, the marketplace has 
already recognized the value of such interoperability, and carriers 
have largely designed their networks and services accordingly.
    35. We recognize that some commenters have advocated for an even 
simpler approach to qualifying for streamlined treatment of legacy 
voice discontinuance applications. Most notably, there is some support 
in the record for AT&T's recommendation that a discontinuing carrier 
only be required to show that any ``fixed or mobile voice service, 
including interconnected VoIP'' be available to qualify for streamlined 
treatment. We do not think this approach strikes the right balance 
between facilitating the technology transition and our statutory 
obligation to ensure that ``neither the present nor future public 
convenience and necessity will be adversely affected'' by 
discontinuance of legacy voice services. AT&T's approach would allow 
further streamlined processing for discontinuance applications where 
only one replacement voice service is available, and where the 
replacement service could be any voice service, including over-the-top 
VoIP or mobile wireless. Consequently, it fails to ensure the 
availability of a voice replacement service in the community as a 
condition to obtaining streamlined treatment that sufficiently 
addresses commenters' concerns raised in this proceeding about the 
characteristics of the replacement voice service, and it does not carry 
the added benefit of ensuring the availability of multiple alternatives 
to affected customers, whether present or future.
    36. We also disagree with AT&T's assertion that our requirement 
that carriers must offer stand-alone interconnected VoIP service in 
order to qualify for the alternative options test ``warrants further 
notice and comment.'' In the Wireline Infrastructure NPRM, the 
Commission sought comment on the ``types of fiber, IP-based, or 
wireless services [that] would constitute acceptable alternatives, and 
under what circumstances'' when seeking comment on ways to further 
streamline the discontinuance process. Second, the requirements we 
adopt for the alternative options test do not preclude a carrier that 
cannot meet those requirements from seeking to discontinue its legacy 
voice service. Instead, the carrier has two other options for seeking 
discontinuance: (1) Seek streamlined treatment pursuant to the adequate 
replacement test; or (2) proceed with its application on a non-
streamlined basis. Given these other options, we find that AT&T's 
argument that the availability of multiple voice alternatives is 
unnecessary because consumer demand demonstrates that wireless voice 
constitutes an adequate replacement for legacy voice service is 
misplaced. It also fails to recognize the needs of enterprise 
customers.
    37. We also reject certain commenters' requests that we make a 
generalized finding that discontinuing a legacy voice service in favor 
of any type of voice replacement service would not adversely affect the 
public convenience and necessity, effectively amounting to blanket 
discontinuance authority for legacy voice services. Likewise, to be 
clear, the alternative options test we adopt today makes no such 
generalized finding about the services meeting the two-part test, 
thereby eliminating any concern regarding such a potential

[[Page 31666]]

finding. While a carrier may use the alternative options test to 
receive streamlined treatment of its discontinuance application, 
customers that have concerns about a particular carrier's stand-alone 
interconnected VoIP replacement service may still file comments or 
objections to that carrier's discontinuance application, and the 
Commission will evaluate those comments or objections to determine 
whether to remove the application at issue from streamlined processing 
for further evaluation under the traditional five-factor test. We 
determine whether approving a discontinuance application is in the 
public interest based on several factors, not just the adequacy of the 
replacement service. We decline to ignore the other factors, as 
commenters' request would require, and reach a blanket public interest 
determination based on a single factor.
    38. Finally, we are unpersuaded by commenter concerns that large 
enterprise or government customers will be adversely affected by 
further streamlined processing of legacy voice discontinuance 
applications that do not meet the adequate replacement test. By our 
actions today, like all our streamlining actions, we do not intend to 
disturb existing contractual obligations between carriers and their 
customers. Large enterprise and government customers generally enter 
into negotiated contracts for the provision of telecommunications 
services given their unique requirements. And as the Commission has 
found, carriers are accustomed to working with customers, such as 
government users, to avoid service disruptions. We have no reason to 
depart from the expectation that carriers will ``continue to 
collaborate with their [enterprise or government] customers, especially 
utilities and public safety and other government customers, to ensure 
that they are given sufficient time to accommodate the transition to 
[next-generation services] such that key functionalities are not lost 
during this period of change.'' The record confirms such collaborations 
routinely occur. Moreover, as with all discontinuance applications, 
customers are able to file comments in opposition to a discontinuance 
application and seek to have the Commission remove the application from 
streamlined processing.
    39. Streamlining Additional Grandfathering Applications. We also 
further streamline our discontinuance processes for applications 
seeking to grandfather legacy voice services. As discussed above, last 
fall the Commission adopted streamlined comment and automatic grant 
periods of 10 and 25 days, respectively, for applications seeking to 
grandfather legacy voice services at speeds below 1.544 Mbps. We now 
extend this same streamlined processing to applications seeking to 
grandfather any legacy voice service, including enterprise voice 
services such as T1 CAS and Integrated Service Digital Network (ISDN) 
used for voice. The record supports this action.
    40. As the Commission found in the Wireline Infrastructure Order, 
compliance with our section 214(a) discontinuance rules imposes costs 
on carriers and diverts carriers' resources away from investment in 
deploying next-generation networks and services. Moreover, as existing 
customers will be entitled to maintain their legacy voice services, 
they will not be harmed by grandfathering applications. When a carrier 
chooses to grandfather a legacy voice service to its existing 
customers, it effectively chooses to notify those customers twice of 
its ultimate intent to discontinue their service--once when the carrier 
provides notice of its grandfathering application and once when it 
provides notice of its application to permanently discontinue the 
service. Each application must separately comply with our section 
214(a) discontinuance rules. Once that carrier seeks to permanently 
discontinue the grandfathered legacy voice service, streamlined 
processing is only available if that carrier meets either the 
alternative options test we adopt today or the adequate replacement 
test adopted in 2016.
    41. Other Issues--Forbearance. We reject certain commenters' 
proposal that we forbear from applying section 214(a)'s discontinuance 
requirements to carriers seeking to transition from legacy voice 
services to next-generation replacement services. The criteria 
necessary to satisfy a grant of forbearance are not met at this time.
    42. Commenters seeking forbearance assume the ubiquitous 
availability of next-generation advanced services. However, this 
assumption does not bear out in many rural areas of this country, thus 
implicating our statutory obligation to ensure that ``[c]onsumers in 
all regions of the Nation, including low-income consumers and those in 
rural, insular, and high cost areas, should have access to 
telecommunications and information services, including interexchange 
services and advanced telecommunications and information services, that 
are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas and 
that are available at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates 
charged for similar services in urban areas.'' The Commission has 
previously recognized Congress' concern that ``discontinuance by the 
only carrier serving a market . . . would leave the public without 
adequate communications service.'' We thus find that forbearance would 
not ``promote competitive market conditions'' because it would 
eliminate our ability to ensure the existence of any alternatives. We 
reject NTCA's argument that we should look only to whether a 
discontinuance will result in the cessation of voice service for the 
same reasons we reject forbearance. Moreover, if we forbear from our 
section 214(a) discontinuance requirements, we will be unable to ensure 
that there is adequate notice of a planned discontinuance, regardless 
of the availability of multiple alternatives. And should we forbear 
from requiring that discontinuing carriers file applications and 
related certifications before discontinuing service, we would lose the 
opportunity to ensure the accuracy of carriers' own determinations 
regarding, among other things, the reliability and affordability of the 
replacement services and the availability of those services to all 
affected customers. Thus, on this record, enforcement of our section 
214(a) discontinuance requirements is ``necessary for the protection of 
consumers'' and forbearance would not be consistent with the public 
interest, making forbearance from those requirements inappropriate at 
this time. Indeed, because the service at issue is basic telephone 
service, we must be given the opportunity to scrutinize whether the 
planned discontinuance would result in an unreasonable degree of 
consumer hardship, including considering ``the availability of 
reasonable substitutes, and whether customers have had a reasonable 
opportunity to migrate.''
    43. Other Issues--Notice Only. For the same reason that we decline 
to forbear from section 214(a), we reject commenters' proposal that we 
require no more than a notice to the Commission that affected customers 
have been ``properly notified'' about the transition or about the 
alternative services available in the affected service area. Requiring 
a simple notice to the Commission rather than an application seeking 
Commission authorization of the planned discontinuance would abrogate 
our responsibility under section 214(a) to ensure that the 
discontinuance will not adversely affect the present or future public 
convenience or necessity.

[[Page 31667]]

B. Network Change Disclosure Reforms

    44. Today, recognizing significant changes in the marketplace and 
technology over the past several years, we take additional actions to 
further reduce unnecessary and redundant regulatory burdens and delay 
on incumbent LECs when making network changes while continuing to 
ensure that interconnecting carriers have adequate information and time 
to accommodate such changes. We also eliminate unnecessary notice 
requirements pertaining to the connection of customer premises 
equipment (CPE) to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). And we 
take action to ensure that carriers can expeditiously return their 
communications networks to working order in the face of events beyond 
their control. Finally, we retain the way in which the Commission 
calculates the waiting period for short-term network change notices.
1. Eliminating Section 51.325(a)(3)
    45. We eliminate the provision in section 51.325 of our rules 
requiring incumbent LECs to provide public notice of network changes 
that ``will affect the manner in which customer premises equipment is 
attached to the interstate network.'' As the record demonstrates, 
incumbent LECs' engagement and collaboration with CPE manufacturers 
today renders this separate notice requirement unnecessary.
    46. When the Commission adopted section 51.325(a)(3), it was 
concerned that an incumbent LEC controlling the underlying transmission 
facilities that also had affiliates engaged in the manufacture of CPE 
might give those affiliates a competitive advantage. This is no longer 
the case. The record confirms that incumbent LECs no longer have the 
same control of the PSTN, nor do they enjoy the market power they did 
two decades ago with respect to the manufacture of CPE.
    47. We find that CPE manufacturers, including those engaged in 
providing essential communications equipment and assistive 
technologies, will have the same access to information when changes to 
a provider's network or operations have the potential to render certain 
devices incompatible to ensure their ability to develop new compatible 
equipment. Incumbent LECs remain subject to sections 201 
(interconnection) and 202 (non-discrimination) of the Act, and the 
Commission has held that the obligations imposed by these statutory 
provisions apply in the context of CPE. Moreover, CPE manufacturers 
have never been entitled to direct notice of network changes of any 
type, even those that might affect the compatibility of CPE. To the 
extent any manufacturers actively monitor carrier network change notice 
web pages or Commission announcements of network change notices, they 
will have the same access to these notices as they have always had. 
Significantly, no CPE manufacturer opposes the elimination of section 
51.325(a)(3). Indeed, the only CPE manufacturer that submitted comments 
on this issue supports its elimination.
    48. The role played by the Administrative Council for Terminal 
Attachments (ACTA) in overseeing the adoption of specific technical 
criteria for terminal equipment further justifies elimination of 
section 51.325(a)(3). The Commission established ACTA, a non-
governmental entity whose membership fairly and impartially represents 
all segments of the telecommunications industry, for the express 
purpose of privatizing the standards development and terminal equipment 
approval processes for the connection of CPE to the PSTN and certain 
private-line services. Through ACTA, incumbent LECs and other service 
providers work collaboratively with CPE manufacturers, independent 
testing labs, and other interested industry segments, to openly share 
the information necessary to ensure CPE compliance and compatibility 
with the incumbent LEC and other service providers' networks. Equipment 
manufacturers must also ensure that their products are registered in 
the ACTA database. ACTA must publish public notice of submitted 
technical criteria, and interested parties may appeal any aspect of 
those submissions to the Commission.
    49. We similarly find that manufacturers will have the opportunity 
to develop modified or upgraded CPE ahead of network changes in the 
absence of section 51.325(a)(3), and thus that consumers will not be 
harmed. Incumbent LECs facing increasing competition from a variety of 
sources must engage their customers and keep them fully informed if 
they hope to retain their business. Because incumbent LECs no longer 
have a significant presence in the market for the manufacture of CPE, 
and they wish to remain competitive in today's ever-changing 
marketplace, they lack a significant incentive to hide changes to their 
networks that may impair the compatibility of CPE used by their 
customers. And as the Commission found in eliminating the requirement 
that incumbent LECs provide direct notice to retail customers of 
planned copper retirements, incumbent LECs already must engage their 
retail customers as a normal business practice in order to install the 
equipment necessary to accommodate fiber lines, at which time they also 
address CPE compatibility issues.
    50. Unlike section 51.325(a)'s other delineated types of network 
changes that were adopted to protect interoperability and 
interconnection with other carriers' networks and facilities, the 
Commission adopted section 51.325(a)(3) specifically to protect 
competitive CPE manufacturers. That rationale no longer justifies the 
rule. Some commenters misunderstand the history of section 51.325(a)(3) 
and erroneously assert that the Commission's intention in promulgating 
section 51.325(a)(3) was ``to maintain interoperability and 
uninterrupted, high quality service to the public.'' While that was the 
Commission's articulated intention when it adopted section 51.325 in 
1996, it was not until three years later that the Commission added 
subsection (a)(3). When the Commission first adopted its part 51 
network change disclosure rules in 1996, it did not include section 
51.325(a)(3) related to CPE. At that time, a different section of the 
Commission's rules already required incumbent LECs, and other 
facilities-based carriers, to publicly disclose, inter alia, network 
information that would affect CPE compatibility. When the Commission 
subsequently relieved non-incumbent LEC facilities-based carriers of 
section 64.702(d)(2) obligations three years later, rather than retain 
CPE notice obligations just for incumbent LECs in part 64 of its rules, 
the Commission rolled the requirement into the part 51 network change 
disclosure rules by adding section 51.325(a)(3). When adding that new 
provision, the Commission was clear that ``[t]he primary purpose of 
network information disclosure in this context is not to protect 
intercarrier interconnection, but rather to give competitive 
manufacturers of CPE adequate advance notice when a carrier intends to 
alter its network in a way that may affect the manner in which CPE is 
attached to the network.''
    51. Finally, our rules separately require that incumbent LECs and 
other service providers and equipment manufacturers ensure the 
accessibility and usability of their services and equipment by people 
with disabilities, which of necessity requires collaboration between 
these two groups, as well as with individuals with disabilities and 
disability-related organizations. In this regard, we expect that 
incumbent LECs and other service providers will communicate with state 
centers that distribute specialized customer premises equipment (SCPE) 
or

[[Page 31668]]

peripheral devices commonly used by people with disabilities (such as 
TTYs and analog captioned telephones), as well as with state 
telecommunications relay service programs, to alert these entities when 
there is an expectation that legacy devices routinely used by people 
with disabilities may no longer work after network changes are in 
place. When accessibility and usability are not achievable or readily 
achievable, as applicable, incumbent LEC service providers have an 
independent obligation to ensure their services are compatible with 
assistive technologies, so any network change that would impact service 
accessibility would necessarily need to also ensure CPE compatibility.
2. Eliminating Section 68.110(b) Notice to Customers
    52. We also eliminate the requirement that carriers give notice to 
customers of changes to their facilities, equipment, operations, or 
procedures ``[i]f such changes can be reasonably expected to render any 
customer's terminal equipment incompatible with the communications 
facilities of the provider of wireline telecommunications . . . to 
allow the customer to maintain uninterrupted service.'' Part 68 applies 
to all wireline providers, not just incumbent LECs. We find that 
changes to the communications marketplace generally and to the market 
for terminal equipment specifically render this over 42 year old notice 
requirement unworkable and unnecessary. Indeed, consumers have 
available to them a vast range of CPE devices and, in many cases, have 
the option of using converter boxes to the extent they choose to keep 
their analog CPE after their service has been migrated to IP. The terms 
``terminal equipment'' and ``customer premises equipment (CPE)'' are 
used interchangeably.
    53. The rule made some sense when it was adopted in 1975 as part of 
the Commission's decision to require carriers to allow third party-
manufactured terminal equipment to be directly connected to the network 
as long as the equipment met specific technical standards set forth by 
the Commission to prevent network harm. As part of that regime, the 
Commission required telephone company customers to notify their 
provider before connecting any third-party terminal equipment to the 
network to ensure that the equipment had been registered with the 
Commission under its new part 68 rules. At the same time, the 
Commission adopted the reciprocal section 68.110(b) requirement for 
telephone companies to notify those customers if the telephone company 
was making any changes to its operations that might affect the 
compatibility of the customer's third-party equipment. This notice 
requirement imposed no obligation on the carrier to refrain from or 
delay making its network change to accommodate its customer, nor was 
there any obligation on the part of the telephone company to ensure 
that other compatible CPE was available.
    54. Attachment of third-party equipment is now the norm. Customers 
are no longer required to notify their carriers of the CPE they connect 
to their providers' networks unless their carrier has specifically 
required that they do so. In 1985, the Commission relaxed the customer 
requirement to notify the telephone company upon the development of a 
robust CPE registration database, but the corresponding notice to 
customers went unaddressed. When the Commission revised the part 68 
rules in 2001, it again did not address section 68.110(b). Moreover, 
given the current universe of registered CPE that customers could 
potentially connect to their provider's network, as commenters explain, 
carriers cannot reasonably know which of their subscribers use which, 
if any, of that equipment. There are tens of thousands of approved 
pieces of terminal equipment listed in the ACTA database. Indeed, the 
database was not established for the purpose of enabling carriers to 
identify the CPE used by particular customers. Rather, it was intended 
to allow consumers and providers to identify the supplier of a 
particular piece of equipment. As a result, the only way a carrier 
could be certain of complying with section 68.110(b) was if it notified 
each and every one of its customers whenever any service or network 
change was about to occur, an unduly burdensome and impractical 
requirement.
    55. What's more, there are other safeguards in place to reduce the 
likelihood that manufacturers and customers will be left unaware of 
carriers' changes to their facilities, equipment, operations, or 
procedures that can be reasonably expected to render any terminal 
equipment incompatible with the carrier's facilities. Most 
significantly, ACTA's privatized, open, and balanced collaborative 
process among CPE manufacturers, service providers, testing 
laboratories, and other interested stakeholders ensures the adoption of 
technical criteria for compatible CPE that accommodates service 
providers' network evolutions, thus avoiding customer service 
interruptions.
    56. Also, the types of network or operational changes that could 
impact customers' CPE will still result in notice to customers. 
Specifically, our rules require customer notice of service 
discontinuances, and the Commission has found that carriers must as a 
business necessity communicate with customers regarding copper 
retirements. Further, carriers have strong incentives to keep their 
customers informed of technology transitions, including changes in 
their networks, that might affect CPE compatibility if they hope to 
retain their customers in today's competitive marketplace. And as 
discussed earlier, other regulatory requirements are designed to ensure 
that covered services are accessible to and usable by individuals with 
disabilities, or compatible with SCPE and peripheral devices commonly 
used by individuals with disabilities, such as TTYs and analog 
captioned telephones. And manufacturers of specialized equipment 
designed to ensure accessibility can refer to technical standards made 
available through ACTA to also ensure that their equipment is 
compatible with the network in accordance with part 68. Regardless, 
mandated notice requirements do not affect whether customers will have 
to replace their devices.
    57. We are unpersuaded by commenter concerns that, if we eliminate 
this rule, large enterprise customers will be ``required to redesign 
their networks on the fly and after the fact'' or that ``the 
reliability and security of utility applications'' will be undermined. 
As the Commission has already found, such customers generally enter 
into contracts with their telecommunications carriers in which they can 
specify the amount of notice the carrier must provide about changes to 
its network. As the Commission noted in the Wireline Infrastructure 
Order, it would be absurd to suggest that carriers ``would risk public 
safety or fail to work cooperatively and diligently to accommodate 
critical needs of their public-safety related customers absent a 
mandatory Commission notice obligation.'' We do not intend for our 
network change disclosure and section 214(a) discontinuance rules to 
disturb contractual obligations. And incumbent LECs are now free, as 
all other telecommunications carriers always were, to engage their 
enterprise customers in advance of providing public notice of potential 
network changes that might affect terminal equipment compatibility.

[[Page 31669]]

3. Extending Streamlined Notice Procedures for Force Majeure Events to 
All Network Changes
    58. Today, we extend to all types of network changes the 
streamlined notice procedures the Commission recently adopted for 
copper retirements when force majeure events occur. Throughout this 
section, we use the phrase ``force majeure'' to refer generally to the 
full range of unforeseen events outside incumbent LECs' control, e.g., 
natural disasters, terrorist attacks, governmental mandates or 
unintentional third-party damage, that may give rise to unplanned 
network changes. The record overwhelmingly supports this action. The 
same considerations that led the Commission to adopt force majeure 
copper retirement procedures apply equally to all network changes. 
Facilitating rapid restoration of communications networks in the face 
of natural disasters and other unforeseen events warrants swift removal 
of unnecessary regulatory barriers that inhibit incumbent LECs from 
restoring service as quickly as possible when networks are damaged or 
destroyed by events beyond the LECs' control.
    59. We find no reason in the record to further impede carriers' 
efforts to restore service necessitating network changes other than 
copper retirements in the face of force majeure events. While CWA 
posits that these streamlined procedures may reduce Commission 
oversight ``over network changes after immediate recovery efforts,'' 
the streamlined procedures we adopt today merely eliminate the advance 
notice and waiting period requirements in exigent circumstances. 
Incumbent LECs availing themselves of this limited relief must still 
comply with section 51.325(a)'s public notice requirement as soon as 
practicable. Moreover, we agree that the safeguards included within the 
force majeure notice rule ensure that only genuine force majeure events 
necessitating a network change will justify streamlined procedures. 
Finally, should the network changes occurring from a force majeure 
event result in a discontinuance of service to customers in the 
affected area, section 63.63 dictates that the carrier remains subject 
to our discontinuance rules.
4. Retaining Current Calculation of Waiting Period for Short Term 
Network Changes
    60. We retain the current rule that calculates the waiting period 
for short-term network change notices from the date the Commission 
issues its public notice after an incumbent LEC files its network 
change notification, and we decline to calculate the waiting period 
from the date of filing. We agree with commenters that urge us to 
retain this rule to ensure sufficient and complete public notice of 
short-term network changes, given the already short 10-day waiting 
period. Commencing the waiting period at the same time as an incumbent 
LEC files its network change notification, as proposed by AT&T and 
supported by others, fails to provide Commission staff an opportunity 
to first review the notice for compliance with our rules or for 
unintentional errors, potentially ``depriving notice recipients of 
information they need to accommodate the network change.''
    61. We reject ITTA's assertion that because the Commission retained 
a distinction between copper retirement notice rules and other types of 
network change notice rules, this difference alone constitutes a basis 
for deviating from how we calculate the commencement of the waiting 
period for each. The record demonstrates that the reasons we declined 
to revise the calculation of the waiting period for copper retirement 
notices similarly warrant retaining the long-standing way in which we 
calculate the waiting period for short-term network change notices as 
well. Reducing the already-short waiting period further limits the 
notice to interconnecting carriers, affecting their ability to 
accommodate the planned network change or to object, if necessary, to 
the timing of the planned network change. Staff has as much need to 
``routinely contact filers to clarify or correct information contained 
in filings or to add required information that is missing'' for short-
term network change notices as for copper retirements.
    62. Finally, we decline to adopt a requirement that the Commission 
release a public notice within a specified period of time after an 
incumbent LEC files a short-term network change notice. In the Wireline 
Infrastructure Order, the Commission found that commenters had not 
identified ``any specific instance in which a planned copper retirement 
had to be delayed due to the timing of our release of the relevant 
public notice.'' Similarly, commenters here do not identify any 
instance in which a carrier has had to delay planned network changes 
because of the Commission's failure to timely release a public notice 
after a LEC has filed its short-term network change notice. We 
therefore decline to adopt a rule to solve a non-existent problem.

C. Non-Substantive Changes to the Code of Federal Regulations

    63. We also make certain non-substantive updates and corrections to 
our codified rules required by the actions we take today and actions 
taken in the Wireline Infrastructure Order and the 2016 Technology 
Transitions Order. Section 553(b)(3)(B) of the Administrative 
Procedures Act permits agencies to issue rule changes without notice 
and comment upon a finding of good cause that notice and associated 
procedures are ``impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public 
interest.'' We find that notice and comment is unnecessary for rule 
changes that reflect prior Commission decisions that inadvertently were 
not reflected in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Similarly, we 
find notice and comment is not necessary for rule amendments to ensure 
consistency in terminology and cross references across various rules or 
to correct inadvertent failures to make conforming changes when prior 
rule amendments occurred.
    64. In light of our elimination today of section 68.110(b) of our 
rules, we redesignate that current rule's paragraph (c) as paragraph 
(b). In turn, we must adjust any cross-references to section 68.110(c) 
elsewhere in our rules to reflect its redesignation as 68.110(b). We 
thus make the necessary changes to such cross-reference in section 
68.105(d)(4). Similarly, in eliminating section 51.325(a)(3) today, we 
redesignate paragraph (a)(4) of that section as paragraph (a)(3). We 
thus adjust the cross-references to section 51.325(a)(4) that appear in 
section 51.333(b)(2) and (f).
    65. Additionally, in the Wireline Infrastructure Order, the 
Commission eliminated section 51.332 of our rules, pertaining to the 
copper retirement process. A cross-reference to that rule appears in 
section 63.71(i). Rules governing the copper retirement process now 
appear in section 51.333. We now revise section 63.71(i) to cross-
reference section 51.333 rather than section 51.332.
    66. We also make an administrative change to correct an inaccurate 
cross-reference in section 63.71(k)(1), adopted in the Wireline 
Infrastructure Order, changing its reference to paragraph (k)(4) of 
that section to paragraph (k)(2). We find good cause for correcting 
this cross-reference without prior notice and comment because the 
inaccurate cross-reference will likely confuse and mislead applicants 
seeking to discontinue, reduce, or impair a legacy data service if not 
corrected promptly.

[[Page 31670]]

    67. To shorten the number of unnecessary subsections in our rules, 
we also revise section 63.71(a) by combining paragraphs (a)(6) and 
(a)(7) into one consolidated new paragraph (a)(6). We also update any 
cross-references to paragraphs (a)(6) and (a)(7) in section 63.71(a) to 
reflect this consolidation. We similarly update any cross-references to 
section 63.60(h) in section 63.71 to reflect the redesignation of 
paragraph (h) in section 63.60 as paragraph (i). This administrative 
change makes no substantive changes to the language or underlying 
requirements of the rule.
    68. Finally, we correct an inadvertent error in the ordering clause 
of the 2016 Technology Transitions Order specifying which revised rules 
adopted in that order require approval by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) before they can become effective. In that ordering clause, 
the Commission indicated that the revision to section 63.19(a) required 
such approval. However, the revision in that rule, to change a cross-
reference from section 63.601 to the then newly-adopted section 63.602, 
did not impact that section's reporting or recordkeeping requirements. 
It therefore does not fall within the purview of the Paperwork 
Reduction Act and does not require OMB approval.

IV. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    69. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA), an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was 
incorporated into the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Notice of Inquiry, 
and Request for Comment (Wireline Infrastructure NPRM) and into the 
Report and Order, Declaratory Ruling, and Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (Wireline Infrastructure Order or Wireline Infrastructure 
FNPRM) for the wireline infrastructure proceeding. The Commission 
sought written public comment on the proposals in the Wireline 
Infrastructure NPRM and in the Wireline Infrastructure FNPRM, including 
comment on the IRFAs. The Commission received no comments on the IRFAs. 
Because the Commission amends its rules in this Order, the Commission 
has included this Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA). This 
present FRFA conforms to the RFA.

A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Rules

    70. In the Wireline Infrastructure NPRM, the Commission continued 
its efforts to close the digital divide by removing barriers to 
broadband infrastructure investment. To this end, the Commission 
proposed numerous regulatory reforms to existing rules and procedures 
regarding copper retirement, and discontinuances of legacy services. In 
so doing, the Commission sought to better enable broadband providers to 
build, maintain, and upgrade their networks, leading to more affordable 
and available internet access and other broadband services for 
consumers and businesses alike. On November 16, 2017, the Commission 
adopted the Wireline Infrastructure Order, which adopted reforms to 
speed the replacement of copper with fiber and internet Protocol (IP) 
technologies. In the accompanying Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, the Commission sought comment on additional steps to 
streamline the network change disclosure and discontinuance processes, 
including the process for transitioning legacy services to new advanced 
IP services.
    71. Pursuant to the objectives set forth in the Wireline 
Infrastructure NPRM, this Second Report and Order (Order) adopts 
changes to Commission rules regarding section 214 discontinuance 
procedures, network change disclosures, and part 68 notice 
requirements. The Order adopts changes to the current section 214(a) 
discontinuance process to further streamline the review and approval 
process by: (1) Extending the previously-adopted streamlined comment 
and automatic grant periods for applications seeking to grandfather or 
discontinue previously-grandfathered data services to certain higher-
speed data services, (2) forbearing from section 214(a)'s 
discontinuance requirements for services with no customers, (3) 
eliminating the uncodified education and outreach mandates adopted in 
the 2016 Technology Transitions Order, (4) adopting an alternative to 
the ``adequate replacement test'' adopted in the 2016 Technology 
Transitions Order for where the discontinuing carrier offers a stand-
alone interconnected VoIP service throughout the affected service area 
and at least one other stand-alone facilities-based voice service is 
available throughout the affected service area, and (5) extending the 
streamlined comment and automatic grant periods of 10 and 25 days to 
applications seeking to grandfather all legacy voice services. The 
Order also adopts changes to the Commission's part 51 network change 
notification rules and part 68 rules pertaining to connecting terminal 
equipment to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) that 
eliminate unnecessary notice requirements pertaining to the connection 
of customer premises equipment to the PSTN, and reduce regulatory 
burdens and delay on incumbent LECs when making network changes while 
continuing to ensure that interconnecting carriers have adequate 
information and time to accommodate such changes. Finally, the Order 
revises its network change disclosure rules to extend to all types of 
network changes the streamlined notice procedures the Commission 
recently adopted for copper retirements when force majeure and other 
unforeseen events occur. These additional steps will further the 
Commission's goal of eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens, 
decrease needless costs and delay in transitioning from legacy services 
to next-generation IP-based services, and better reflect the reality of 
today's marketplace and the decreasing demand for legacy services as 
customers move towards more advanced competing alternatives.

B. Summary of Significant Issues Raised by Public Comments in Response 
to the IRFA

    72. The Commission did not receive comments specifically addressing 
the rules and policies proposed in the IRFAs in either the Wireline 
Infrastructure NPRM or the Wireline Infrastructure FNPRM.

C. Response to Comments by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration

    73. The Chief Counsel did not file any comments in response to this 
proceeding.

D. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which 
the Rules Will Apply

    74. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description and, where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the final rules adopted pursuant to the Order. The RFA 
generally defines the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning 
as the terms ``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small 
governmental jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' 
has the same meaning as the term ``small-business concern'' under the 
Small Business Act. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory 
definition of a small business applies ``unless an agency, after 
consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration and after opportunity for public comment, establishes 
one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the 
activities of the agency and publishes such definition(s)

[[Page 31671]]

in the Federal Register.'' A ``small-business concern'' is one which: 
(1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its 
field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria 
established by the SBA.
    75. The changes to our section 214 discontinuance, network change 
notification, and part 68 customer notification rules will affect 
obligations on incumbent LECs and, in some cases, competitive LECs. 
Other entities that choose to object to network change notifications 
for copper retirement or section 214 discontinuance applications may be 
economically impacted by the rules in the Order.
    76. Small Businesses, Small Organizations, Small Governmental 
Jurisdictions. Our actions, over time, may affect small entities that 
are not easily categorized at present. We therefore describe here, at 
the outset, three comprehensive small entity size standards that could 
be directly affected herein. First, while there are industry specific 
size standards for small businesses that are used in the regulatory 
flexibility analysis, according to data from the SBA's Office of 
Advocacy, in general a small business is an independent business having 
fewer than 500 employees. These types of small businesses represent 
99.9% of all businesses in the United States which translates to 29.6 
million businesses.
    77. Next, the type of small entity described as a ``small 
organization'' is generally ``any not-for-profit enterprise which is 
independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.'' 
Nationwide, as of August 2016, there were approximately 356,494 small 
organizations based on registration and tax data filed by nonprofits 
with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Data from the Urban Institute, 
National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) reporting on nonprofit 
organizations registered with the IRS was used to estimate the number 
of small organizations. Reports generated using the NCCS online 
database indicated that as of August 2016 there were 356,494 registered 
nonprofits with total revenues of less than $100,000. Of this number, 
326,897 entities filed tax returns with 65,113 registered nonprofits 
reporting total revenues of $50,000 or less on the IRS Form 990-N for 
Small Exempt Organizations and 261,784 nonprofits reporting total 
revenues of $100,000 or less on some other version of the IRS Form 990 
within 24 months of the August 2016 data release date.
    78. Finally, the small entity described as a ``small governmental 
jurisdiction'' is defined generally as ``governments of cities, 
counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special 
districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.'' U.S. Census 
Bureau data from the 2012 Census of Governments indicates that there 
were 90,056 local governmental jurisdictions consisting of general 
purpose governments and special purpose governments in the United 
States. The Census of Government is conducted every five (5) years 
compiling data for years ending with ``2'' and ``7.'' Local 
governmental jurisdictions are classified in two categories--General 
purpose governments (county, municipal and town or township) and 
Special purpose governments (special districts and independent school 
districts). Of this number there were 37,132 general purpose 
governments (county, municipal and town or township) with populations 
of less than 50,000 and 12,184 special purpose governments (independent 
school districts and special districts) with populations of less than 
50,000. There were 2,114 county governments with populations less than 
50,000. There were 18,811 municipal and 16,207 town and township 
governments with populations less than 50,000. There were 12,184 
independent school districts with enrollment populations less than 
50,000. The U.S. Census Bureau data did not provide a population 
breakout for special district governments. The 2012 U.S. Census Bureau 
data for most types of governments in the local government category 
shows that the majority of these governments have populations of less 
than 50,000. While U.S. Census Bureau data did not provide a population 
breakout for special district governments, if the population of less 
than 50,000 for this category of local government is consistent with 
the other types of local governments the majority of the 38,266 special 
district governments have populations of less than 50,000. Based on 
this data we estimate that at least 49,316 local government 
jurisdictions fall in the category of ``small governmental 
jurisdictions.''
    79. Wired Telecommunications Carriers. The U.S. Census Bureau 
defines this industry as ``establishments primarily engaged in 
operating and/or providing access to transmission facilities and 
infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the transmission of 
voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired communications 
networks. Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology 
or a combination of technologies. Establishments in this industry use 
the wired telecommunications network facilities that they operate to 
provide a variety of services, such as wired telephony services, 
including VoIP services, wired (cable) audio and video programming 
distribution, and wired broadband internet services. By exception, 
establishments providing satellite television distribution services 
using facilities and infrastructure that they operate are included in 
this industry.'' The SBA has developed a small business size standard 
for Wired Telecommunications Carriers, which consists of all such 
companies having 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 2012 show 
that there were 3,117 firms that operated that year. Of this total, 
3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Thus, under this size 
standard, the majority of firms in this industry can be considered 
small.
    80. Local Exchange Carriers (LECs). Neither the Commission nor the 
SBA has developed a size standard for small businesses specifically 
applicable to local exchange services. The closest applicable NAICS 
Code category is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers, as defined in 
paragraph 79 of this FRFA. Under that size standard, such a business is 
small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 2012 show 
that there were 3,117 firms that operated that year. Of this total, 
3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. The Commission 
therefore estimates that most providers of local exchange carrier 
service are small entities that may be affected by the rules adopted.
    81. Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (incumbent LECs). Neither the 
Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard 
specifically for incumbent local exchange services. The closest 
applicable NAICS Code category is Wired Telecommunications Carriers as 
defined in paragraph 79 of this FRFA. Under that size standard, such a 
business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to 
Commission data, 3,117 firms operated in that year. Of this total, 
3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Consequently, the 
Commission estimates that most providers of incumbent local exchange 
service are small businesses that may be affected by the rules and 
policies adopted. One thousand three hundred and seven (1,307) 
Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers reported that they were incumbent 
local exchange service providers. Of this total, an estimated 1,006 
have 1,500 or fewer employees.
    82. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (competitive LECs), 
Competitive Access Providers (CAPs), Shared-Tenant Service Providers, 
and Other Local Service Providers. Neither the

[[Page 31672]]

Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard 
specifically for these service providers. The appropriate NAICS Code 
category is Wired Telecommunications Carriers, as defined in paragraph 
79 of this FRFA. Under that size standard, such a business is small if 
it has 1,500 or fewer employees. U.S. Census data for 2012 indicate 
that 3,117 firms operated during that year. Of that number, 3,083 
operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Based on this data, the 
Commission concludes that the majority of Competitive LECs, CAPs, 
Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and Other Local Service Providers are 
small entities. According to Commission data, 1,442 carriers reported 
that they were engaged in the provision of either competitive local 
exchange services or competitive access provider services. Of these 
1,442 carriers, an estimated 1,256 have 1,500 or fewer employees. In 
addition, 17 carriers have reported that they are Shared-Tenant Service 
Providers, and all 17 are estimated to have 1,500 or fewer employees. 
In addition, 72 carriers have reported that they are Other Local 
Service Providers. Of this total, 70 have 1,500 or fewer employees. 
Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of 
competitive local exchange service, competitive access providers, 
Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and Other Local Service Providers are 
small entities that may be affected by the adopted rules.
    83. Interexchange Carriers (IXCs). Neither the Commission nor the 
SBA has developed a definition for Interexchange Carriers. The closest 
NAICS Code category is Wired Telecommunications Carriers as defined in 
paragraph 79 of this FRFA. The applicable size standard under SBA rules 
is that such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
According to Commission data, 359 companies reported that their primary 
telecommunications service activity was the provision of interexchange 
services. Of this total, an estimated 317 have 1,500 or fewer employees 
and 42 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission 
estimates that the majority of interexchange service providers are 
small entities that may be affected by rules adopted.
    84. Other Toll Carriers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has 
developed a size standard for small businesses specifically applicable 
to Other Toll Carriers. This category includes toll carriers that do 
not fall within the categories of interexchange carriers, operator 
service providers, prepaid calling card providers, satellite service 
carriers, or toll resellers. The closest applicable NAICS Code category 
is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers, as defined in paragraph 79 of 
this FRFA. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 
1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 2012 shows that there were 
3,117 firms that operated that year. Of this total, 3,083 operated with 
fewer than 1,000 employees. Thus, under this category and the 
associated small business size standard, the majority of Other Toll 
Carriers can be considered small. According to Commission data, 284 
companies reported that their primary telecommunications service 
activity was the provision of other toll carriage. Of these, an 
estimated 279 have 1,500 or fewer employees. Consequently, the 
Commission estimates that most Other Toll Carriers that may be affected 
by our rules are small.
    85. Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). This 
industry comprises establishments engaged in operating and maintaining 
switching and transmission facilities to provide communications via the 
airwaves, such as cellular services, paging services, wireless internet 
access, and wireless video services. The appropriate size standard 
under SBA rules is that such a business is small if it has 1,500 or 
fewer employees. For this industry, Census data for 2012 show that 
there were 967 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 
955 firms had fewer than 1,000 employees. Thus, under this category and 
the associated size standard, the Commission estimates that the 
majority of wireless telecommunications carriers (except satellite) are 
small entities. Similarly, according to internally developed Commission 
data, 413 carriers reported that they were engaged in the provision of 
wireless telephony, including cellular service, Personal Communications 
Service (PCS), and Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) services. Of this 
total, an estimated 261 have 1,500 or fewer employees. Consequently, 
the Commission estimates that approximately half of these firms can be 
considered small. Thus, using available data, we estimate that the 
majority of wireless firms can be considered small.
    86. Cable Companies and Systems (Rate Regulation). The Commission 
has developed its own small business size standards for the purpose of 
cable rate regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a ``small cable 
company'' is one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers nationwide. 
Industry data indicate that there are currently 4,600 active cable 
systems in the United States. Of this total, all but nine cable 
operators nationwide are small under the 400,000-subscriber size 
standard. In addition, under the Commission's rate regulation rules, a 
``small system'' is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer subscribers. 
Current Commission records show 4,600 cable systems nationwide. Of this 
total, 3,900 cable systems have fewer than 15,000 subscribers, and 700 
systems have 15,000 or more subscribers, based on the same records. 
Thus, under this standard as well, we estimate that most cable systems 
are small entities.
    87. Cable System Operators (Telecom Act Standard). The 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, also contains a size standard 
for small cable system operators, which is ``a cable operator that, 
directly or through an affiliate, serves in the aggregate fewer than 
one percent of all subscribers in the United States and is not 
affiliated with any entity or entities whose gross annual revenues in 
the aggregate exceed $250,000,000 are approximately 52,403,705 cable 
video subscribers in the United States today. Accordingly, an operator 
serving fewer than 524,037 subscribers shall be deemed a small operator 
if its annual revenues, when combined with the total annual revenues of 
all its affiliates, do not exceed $250 million in the aggregate. Based 
on available data, we find that all but nine incumbent cable operators 
are small entities under this size standard. We note that the 
Commission neither requests nor collects information on whether cable 
system operators are affiliated with entities whose gross annual 
revenues exceed $250 million. The Commission does receive such 
information on a case-by-case basis if a cable operator appeals a local 
franchise authority's finding that the operator does not qualify as a 
small cable operator pursuant to section 76.901(f) of the Commission's 
rules. Although it seems certain that some of these cable system 
operators are affiliated with entities whose gross annual revenues 
exceed $250,000,000, we are unable at this time to estimate with 
greater precision the number of cable system operators that would 
qualify as small cable operators under the definition in the 
Communications Act.
    88. All Other Telecommunications. ``All Other Telecommunications'' 
is defined as follows: ``This U.S. industry is comprised of 
establishments that are primarily engaged in providing specialized 
telecommunications services, such as satellite tracking, communications 
telemetry, and radar station operation. This industry also includes 
establishments primarily engaged in providing satellite terminal

[[Page 31673]]

stations and associated facilities connected with one or more 
terrestrial systems and capable of transmitting telecommunications to, 
and receiving telecommunications from, satellite systems. 
Establishments providing internet services or voice over internet 
protocol (VoIP) services via client supplied telecommunications 
connections are also included in this industry.'' The SBA has developed 
a small business size standard for ``All Other Telecommunications,'' 
which consists of all such firms with gross annual receipts of $32.5 
million or less. For this category, Census Bureau data for 2012 show 
that there were 1,442 firms that operated for the entire year. Of those 
firms, a total of 1,400 had annual receipts less than $25 million. 
Consequently, we conclude that the majority of All Other 
Telecommunications firms can be considered small.

E. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements

    89. Section 214(a) Discontinuance Process. The Order streamlines 
the discontinuance process for applications seeking to grandfather 
certain data services with speeds at or above 1.544 Mbps in both 
directions and to subsequently permanently discontinue such services 
once they have been grandfathered for at least 180 days. Specifically, 
the Order extends the previously-adopted streamlined comment and 
automatic grant period of 10 and 25 days, respectively, for 
applications to grandfather voice and data services below 1.544 Mbps, 
to applications to grandfather data services at or above speeds of 
1.544 Mbps and with download/upload speeds below 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, 
provided the applying carrier offers data services at speeds of at 
least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps throughout the affected service area. The Order 
also extends previously-adopted streamlined comment and automatic grant 
periods of 10 and 31 days, respectively, for applications to 
permanently discontinue data services below 1.544 Mbps provided such 
services have been grandfathered for at least 180 days, to previously-
grandfathered data services at or above speeds of 1.544 Mbps and with 
download/upload speeds below 25 Mbps/3 Mbps. The Order finds that these 
changes will incentivize carriers to provide higher-speed data services 
at or above the 25 Mbps/3 Mbps mark, without sacrificing the customer 
protections under the previous rules. The Order also forbears from 
section 214(a) discontinuance requirements for all services with no 
customers and no reasonable requests for service for at least 30 days. 
Carriers thus will not be required to file applications to discontinue 
such services. The Order finds enforcement of the section 214(a) 
discontinuance requirements is unnecessary to protect consumers when 
the service in question has no customers. It also finds that 
forbearance in such situations is consistent with the public interest. 
The Order also eliminates the uncodified education and outreach 
mandates adopted in the 2016 Technology Transitions Order applicable to 
carriers discontinuing TDM voice services. These requirements have not 
yet been in effect because they have not been approved by OMB. The 
Order finds these mandates unnecessary, as customers already receive or 
can easily obtain from their carriers the information encompassed by 
these requirements. The Order further streamlines applications to 
discontinue legacy voice services by adopting an alternative to the 
``adequate replacement test'' where (1) the discontinuing carrier 
offers a stand-alone interconnected VoIP service throughout the 
affected service area, and (2) there is at least one other stand-alone 
facilities-based voice service available throughout the affected 
service area. These applications will be treated in the same manner as 
other discontinuance applications. Customers will have 15 days from 
filing of the application to submit comments in response to the 
application, and the application will be automatically granted on the 
31st day after filing unless the Commission notifies otherwise. Through 
this alternative to the ``adequate replacement test,'' the Commission 
incents carriers to deploy broadband facilities and ensures that 
customers in the affected service area have multiple voice 
alternatives. Additionally, the Order extends the streamlined comment 
and automatic grant periods of 10 and 25 days to applications seeking 
to grandfather any legacy voice services.
    90. Network Change Notification and Part 68 Notification 
Requirement Reforms. The Order adopts changes to the Commission's part 
51 network change notification rules to eliminate unnecessary notice 
requirements pertaining to the connection of customer premises 
equipment to the public switched telephone network, and to reduce 
regulatory burdens and delay on incumbent LECs when making network 
changes while continuing to ensure that interconnecting carriers have 
adequate information and time to accommodate such changes. The Order 
eliminates the section 51.325(a)(3) requirement that incumbent LECs 
provide public notice of network changes that will affect CPE 
connection to the interstate network. Section 51.325(a)(3) is no longer 
necessary to ensure that CPE manufacturers receive sufficient notice of 
incumbent LECs' planned network changes that may affect CPE 
compatibility because incumbent LECs' engagement and collaboration with 
CPE manufacturers today renders this separate notice requirement 
superfluous. Section 51.325(a)(3) was specifically adopted to protect 
competitive CPE manufacturers, and this rationale no longer justifies 
the rule. The Order also eliminates the section 68.110(b) requirement 
that carriers give notice to customers when changes to their 
facilities, equipment operations, or procedures can be reasonably 
expected to render any customer's terminal equipment incompatible with 
the communications facilities of the provider. As with section 
51.325(a)(3), changes to the marketplace render the purpose of this 
requirement obsolete. The Order revises section 51.333(g) to allow all 
types of network changes to be subject to streamlined notice procedures 
recently adopted for copper retirements when force majeure and other 
unforeseen events occur. This streamlined procedure eliminates the 
advance notice and waiting period requirements for incumbent LECs 
during exigent circumstances. Incumbent LECs will still be required to 
comply with section 51.325(a)'s public notice requirement, as well as 
standard discontinuance rules in the event such changes result in a 
discontinuance of services to customers in the affected area.

F. Steps Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities and Significant Alternatives Considered

    91. In this Order, the Commission modifies its section 214 
discontinuance and network change disclosure rules to improve the 
efficiency of these processes, as well as to increase broadband 
deployment. It also eliminates unnecessary and burdensome section 214 
discontinuance, network change disclosure, and part 68 notification 
regulations that inhibit carriers from implementing the transition to 
next-generation networks and IP-based broadband services. Finally, it 
forbears from section 214 discontinuance requirements in limited 
circumstances, thus further reducing the burden on carriers seeking to 
discontinue services for which they have no customers and have had no 
reasonable request for customers for the

[[Page 31674]]

preceding 30 days. Overall, we expect the actions in this document will 
reduce burdens on the affected carriers, including any small entities.
    92. Section 214(a) Discontinuance Process. The Order streamlines 
applications to grandfather data services with download/upload speeds 
below 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, provided the applying carrier offers data 
services at download/upload speeds of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps 
throughout the affected service area by extending the previously 
streamlined public comment period of 10 days and automatic grant period 
of 25 days for all carriers seeking to grandfather these data services. 
For applications seeking authorization to discontinue services with 
download/upload speeds below 25 Mbps/3 Mbps that have previously been 
grandfathered for a period of 180 days, the Order extends the 
streamlined public comment period of 10 days and the auto-grant period 
of 31 days to all such applications. The Order finds that these changes 
do not sacrifice the customer protections under the previous rules. For 
applications to discontinue any service with no customers and no 
reasonable requests for service for at least 30 days, the Order finds 
that forbearance from section 214(a)'s discontinuance requirements is 
appropriate. The Commission finds enforcement of those requirements is 
not necessary to protect consumers, is consistent with the public 
interest, and will enable carriers to cease devoting resources to 
services no longer having any customer interest. The Order also 
eliminates the uncodified education and outreach requirements adopted 
in the 2016 Technology Transitions Order, finding that these mandates 
are unnecessary as customers already receive or can easily obtain from 
their carriers the information encompassed by these requirements. The 
Order further streamlines applications to discontinue legacy voice 
services by adopting an alternative to the ``adequate replacement 
test'' where (1) the discontinuing carrier offers a stand-alone 
interconnected VoIP service throughout the affected service area, and 
(2) there is at least one other stand-alone facilities-based voice 
service available throughout the affected service area. These 
applications will be treated in the same manner as other discontinuance 
applications. Customers will have 15 days from filing of the 
application to submit comments in response to the application, and the 
application will be automatically granted on the 31st day after filing 
unless the Commission notifies otherwise. Through this alternative to 
the adequate replacement test, the Commission incents carriers to 
deploy broadband facilities and ensures that customers in the affected 
service area have competitive voice alternatives. Additionally, the 
Order extends the streamlined comment and automatic grant periods of 10 
and 25 days to applications seeking to grandfather any legacy voice 
services.
    93. Network Change Notifications and Part 68 Notification 
Requirements. The Order adopts network change notification rule 
revisions that eliminate the requirement that incumbent LECs provide 
public notice of network changes that ``will affect the manner in which 
customer premises equipment is attached to the interstate network'' and 
eliminates the requirement that carriers give notice to customers of 
changes to their facilities, equipment, operations, or procedures 
``[i]f such changes can be reasonably expected to render any customer's 
terminal equipment incompatible with the communications facilities of 
the provider of wireline telecommunications . . . to allow the customer 
to maintain uninterrupted service'' because the Order finds these rules 
are unnecessary. The Order also finds that extending the streamlined 
notice procedures recently adopted for copper retirements when force 
majeure and other unforeseen events occur to all types of network 
changes reduces regulatory burdens and delay on incumbent LECs when 
making network changes. However, the Order further determines that 
these rules continue to ensure that interconnecting carriers have 
adequate information and time to accommodate such changes.
Report to Congress
    94. The Commission will send a copy of the Second Report and Order, 
including this FRFA, in a report to be sent to Congress pursuant to the 
Congressional Review Act. In addition, the Commission will send a copy 
of the Report and Order, including this FRFA, to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the SBA. A copy of the Order and FRFA (or summaries 
thereof) will also be published in the Federal Register.

V. Procedural Matters

    95. Congressional Review Act. The Commission will send a copy of 
this Report and Order, including a copy of the Final Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis, in a report to Congress and the Government 
Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 
U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A). In addition, the Report and Order and this Final 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis will be sent to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA), and will be 
published in the Federal Register.
    96. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. As required by the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), the Commission has prepared a 
Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) relating to this Report 
and Order. The FRFA is contained in section IV above.
    97. Paperwork Reduction Act. The Report and Order contains modified 
information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction 
Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13. It will be submitted to the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under section 3507(d) 
of the PRA. OMB, the general public, and other Federal agencies will be 
invited to comment on the new or modified information collection 
requirements contained in this proceeding. In addition, we note that 
pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 
107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the Commission previously sought 
specific comment on how the Commission might further reduce the 
information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer 
than 25 employees.
    98. In this document, we have assessed the effects of reforming our 
network change notification and section 214(a) discontinuance rules, 
and find that doing so will serve the public interest and is unlikely 
to directly affect businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

VI. Ordering Clauses

    99. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to sections 1-4, 10, 
201, 202, 214, 251, and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as 
amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-54, 160, 201, 202, 214, 251, and 303(r), this 
Second Report and Order is adopted.
    100. It is further ordered that parts 51, 63, and 68 of the 
Commission's rules are amended as set forth in Appendix A, and that any 
such rule amendments that contain new or modified information 
collection requirements that require approval by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act shall be 
effective after announcement in the Federal Register of OMB approval of 
the rules, and on the effective date announced therein.
    101. It is further ordered that this Report and Order shall be 
effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, except for 
47 CFR 51.333(g)(1)(i), (g)(1)(iii), and (g)(2), 63.71(f), (h), (k) 
introductory text, (k)(1) and (3), and (l), which contain information 
collection requirements that

[[Page 31675]]

have not been approved by OMB. The Federal Communications Commission 
will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the 
effective date.
    102. It is further ordered that section 63.19(a), as revised in the 
2016 Technology Transitions Order, shall be effective 30 days after 
publication of this Report and Order in the Federal Register.
    103. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer & 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Second Report and Order to Congress and the Government 
Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 
U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).
    104. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer & 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Second Report and Order, including the Final Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration.

List of Subjects

47 CFR Part 51

    Communications common carriers, Telecommunications.

47 CFR Part 63

    Cable television, Communications common carriers, Radio, Reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements, Telegraph, Telephone.

47 CFR Part 68

    Administrative practice and procedure, Communications common 
carriers, Communications equipment, Labeling, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Telecommunications, Telephone.

Federal Communications Commission.
Katura Jackson,
Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary.

Final Rules

    For the reasons set forth above, Parts 51, 63, and 68 of Title 47 
of the Code of Federal Regulations are amended as follows:

PART 51--INTERCONNECTION

0
1. The authority citation for part 51 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 151-55, 201-05, 207-09, 218, 220, 225-27, 
251-54, 256, 271, 303(r), 332, 1302.


Sec.  51.325  [Amended]

0
2. Amend Sec.  51.325 by removing paragraph (a)(3) and redesignating 
paragraph (a)(4) as paragraph (a)(3).

0
3. Amend Sec.  51.333 by revising paragraphs (b)(2), (f), (g)(1)(i), 
(g)(1)(iii), and (g)(2), to read as follows:


Sec.  51.333  Notice of network changes: Short term notice, objections 
thereto and objections to copper retirement notices.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) Copper retirement notice. Notices of copper retirement, as 
defined in Sec.  51.325(a)(3), shall be deemed final on the 90th day 
after the release of the Commission's public notice of the filing, 
unless an objection is filed pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section, 
except that notices of copper retirement involving copper facilities 
not being used to provision services to any customers shall be deemed 
final on the 15th day after the release of the Commission's public 
notice of the filing. Incumbent LEC copper retirement notices shall be 
subject to the short-term notice provisions of this section, but under 
no circumstances may an incumbent LEC provide less than 90 days' notice 
of such a change except where the copper facilities are not being used 
to provision services to any customers.
* * * * *
    (f) Resolution of objections to copper retirement notices. An 
objection to a notice that an incumbent LEC intends to retire copper, 
as defined in Sec.  51.325(a)(3) shall be deemed denied 90 days after 
the date on which the Commission releases public notice of the 
incumbent LEC filing, unless the Commission rules otherwise within that 
time. Until the Commission has either ruled on an objection or the 90-
day period for the Commission's consideration has expired, an incumbent 
LEC may not retire those copper facilities at issue.
    (g) Limited exemption from advance notice and timing requirements--
(1) Force majeure events. (i) Notwithstanding the requirements of this 
section, if in response to a force majeure event, an incumbent LEC 
invokes its disaster recovery plan, the incumbent LEC will be exempted 
during the period when the plan is invoked (up to a maximum 180 days) 
from all advanced notice and waiting period requirements under this 
section associated with network changes that result from or are 
necessitated as a direct result of the force majeure event.
* * * * *
    (iii) If an incumbent LEC requires relief from the notice 
requirements under this section longer than 180 days after it invokes 
the disaster recovery plan, the incumbent LEC must request such 
authority from the Commission. Any such request must be accompanied by 
a status report describing the incumbent LEC's progress and providing 
an estimate of when the incumbent LEC expects to be able to resume 
compliance with the notice requirements under this section.
* * * * *
    (2) Other events outside an incumbent LEC's control. (i) 
Notwithstanding the requirements of this section, if in response to 
circumstances outside of its control other than a force majeure event 
addressed in paragraph (g)(1) of this section, an incumbent LEC cannot 
comply with the timing requirement set forth in paragraphs (b)(1) or 
(2) of this section, hereinafter referred to as the waiting period, the 
incumbent LEC must give notice of the network change as soon as 
practicable and will be entitled to a reduced waiting period 
commensurate with the circumstances at issue.
    (ii) A short term network change or copper retirement notice 
subject to paragraph (g)(2) of this section must include a brief 
explanation of the circumstances necessitating the reduced waiting 
period and how the incumbent LEC intends to minimize the impact of the 
reduced waiting period on directly interconnected telephone exchange 
service providers.
    (iii) For purposes of this section, circumstances outside of the 
incumbent LEC's control include federal, state, or local municipal 
mandates and unintentional damage to the incumbent LEC's network 
facilities not caused by the incumbent LEC.

PART 63--EXTENSION OF LINES, NEW LINES, AND DISCONTINUANCE, 
REDUCTION, OUTAGE AND IMPAIRMENT OF SERVICE BY COMMON CARRIERS; AND 
GRANTS OF RECOGNIZED PRIVATE OPERATING AGENCY STATUS

0
4. The authority citation for part 63 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 160, 201-205, 214, 
218, 403, and 571, unless otherwise noted.


0
5. Amend Sec.  63.71 by revising paragraphs (a)(6), (f) through (h), 
(i) introductory text, (k) introductory text, and (k)(1) and (3), 
removing paragraphs (a)(7) and (k)(5), and adding new paragraph (1) to 
read as follows:

[[Page 31676]]

Sec.  63.71  Procedures for discontinuance, reduction or impairment of 
service by domestic carriers.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (6) For applications to discontinue, reduce, or impair an existing 
retail service as part of a technology transition, as defined in Sec.  
63.60(i), except for applications meeting the requirements of paragraph 
(f)(2)(ii) of this section, in order to be eligible for automatic grant 
under paragraph (f) of this section:
    (i) A statement that any service offered in place of the service 
being discontinued, reduced, or impaired may not provide line power;
    (ii) The information required by Sec.  12.5(d)(1) of this chapter;
    (iii) A description of any security responsibilities the customer 
will have regarding the replacement service; and
    (iv) A list of the steps the customer may take to ensure safe use 
of the replacement service.
* * * * *
    (f)(1) The application to discontinue, reduce, or impair service, 
if filed by a domestic, non-dominant carrier, or any carrier meeting 
the requirements of paragraph (f)(2)(ii) of this section, shall be 
automatically granted on the 31st day after its filing with the 
Commission without any Commission notification to the applicant unless 
the Commission has notified the applicant that the grant will not be 
automatically effective. The application to discontinue, reduce, or 
impair service, if filed by a domestic, dominant carrier, shall be 
automatically granted on the 60th day after its filing with the 
Commission without any Commission notification to the applicant unless 
the Commission has notified the applicant that the grant will not be 
automatically effective. For purposes of this section, an application 
will be deemed filed on the date the Commission releases public notice 
of the filing.
    (2) An application to discontinue, reduce, or impair an existing 
retail service as part of a technology transition, as defined in Sec.  
63.60(i), may be automatically granted only if:
    (i) The applicant provides affected customers with the notice 
required under paragraph (a)(6) of this section, and the application 
contains the showing or certification described in Sec.  63.602(b); or
    (ii) The applicant:
    (A) Offers a stand-alone interconnected VoIP service, as defined in 
Sec.  9.3 of this chapter, throughout the affected service area, and
    (B) At least one other alternative stand-alone facilities-based 
wireline or wireless voice service is available from another 
unaffiliated provider throughout the affected service area.
    (iii) For purposes of this paragraph (f)(2), ``stand-alone'' means 
that a customer is not required to purchase a separate broadband 
service to access the voice service.
    (g) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a carrier 
is not required to file an application to discontinue, reduce, or 
impair a service for which the requesting carrier has had no customers 
or reasonable requests for service during the 30-day period immediately 
preceding the discontinuance.
    (h) An application to discontinue, reduce, or impair an existing 
retail service as part of a technology transition, as defined in Sec.  
63.60(i), except for an application meeting the requirements of 
paragraphs (f)(2)(ii) and (k) of this section, shall contain the 
information required by Sec.  63.602. The certification or showing 
described in Sec.  63.602(b) is only required if the applicant seeks 
eligibility for automatic grant under paragraph (f)(2)(i) of this 
section.
    (i) An application to discontinue, reduce, or impair a service 
filed by a competitive local exchange carrier in response to a copper 
retirement notice filed pursuant to Sec.  51.333 of this chapter shall 
be automatically granted on the effective date of the copper 
retirement; provided that:
* * * * *
    (k) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a)(5), (a)(6), and (f) of this 
section, the following requirements apply to applications for legacy 
voice services or data services operating at speeds lower than 1.544 
Mbps:
    (1) Where any carrier, dominant or non-dominant, seeks to:
    (i) Grandfather any legacy voice service;
    (ii) Grandfather any data service operating at speeds lower than 
1.544 Mbps; or
    (iii) Discontinue, reduce, or impair a legacy data service 
operating at speeds lower than 1.544 Mbps that has been grandfathered 
for a period of no less than 180 days consistent with the criteria 
established in paragraph (k)(2) of this section, the notice shall 
state:
    The FCC will normally authorize this proposed discontinuance of 
service (or reduction or impairment) unless it is shown that customers 
would be unable to receive service or a reasonable substitute from 
another carrier or that the public convenience and necessity is 
otherwise adversely affected. If you wish to object, you should file 
your comments as soon as possible, but no later than 10 days after the 
Commission releases public notice of the proposed discontinuance. You 
may file your comments electronically through the FCC's Electronic 
Comment Filing System using the docket number established in the 
Commission's public notice for this proceeding, or you may address them 
to the Federal Communications Commission, Wireline Competition Bureau, 
Competition Policy Division, Washington, DC 20554, and include in your 
comments a reference to the Sec.  63.71 Application of (carrier's 
name). Comments should include specific information about the impact of 
this proposed discontinuance (or reduction or impairment) upon you or 
your company, including any inability to acquire reasonable substitute 
service.
* * * * *
    (3) An application filed by any carrier seeking to grandfather any 
legacy voice service or to grandfather any data service operating at 
speeds lower than 1.544 Mbps for existing customers shall be 
automatically granted on the 25th day after its filing with the 
Commission without any Commission notification to the applicant unless 
the Commission has notified the applicant that the grant will not be 
automatically effective.
* * * * *
    (l) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a)(5), (a)(6), and (f) of this 
section, the following requirements apply to applications for data 
services operating at or above 1.544 Mbps in both directions but below 
25 Mbps download, and 3 Mbps upload, provided that the carrier offers 
alternative fixed data services in the affected service area at speeds 
of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload:
    (1) Where any carrier, dominant or non-dominant, seeks to:
    (i) Grandfather such data service; or
    (ii) Discontinue, reduce, or impair such data service that has been 
grandfathered for a period of no less than 180 days consistent with the 
criteria established in paragraph (l)(2) of this section, the notice to 
all affected customers shall state:
    The FCC will normally authorize this proposed discontinuance of 
service (or reduction or impairment) unless it is shown that customers 
would be unable to receive service or a reasonable substitute from 
another carrier or that the public convenience and necessity is 
otherwise adversely affected. If you wish to object, you should file 
your comments as soon as possible, but no later than 10 days after the 
Commission releases public notice of the proposed

[[Page 31677]]

discontinuance. You may file your comments electronically through the 
FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System using the docket number 
established in the Commission's public notice for this proceeding, or 
you may address them to the Federal Communications Commission, Wireline 
Competition Bureau, Competition Policy Division, Washington, DC 20554, 
and include in your comments a reference to the Sec.  63.71 Application 
of (carrier's name). Comments should include specific information about 
the impact of this proposed discontinuance (or reduction or impairment) 
upon you or your company, including any inability to acquire reasonable 
substitute service.
    (2) For applications to discontinue, reduce, or impair such data 
service that has been grandfathered for a period of no less than 180 
days, in order to be eligible for automatic grant under paragraph 
(l)(4) of this section, an applicant must include in its application a 
statement confirming that it received Commission authority to 
grandfather the service at issue at least 180 days prior to filing the 
current application.
    (3) An application seeking to grandfather such a data service shall 
be automatically granted on the 25th day after its filing with the 
Commission without any Commission notification to the applicant unless 
the Commission has notified the applicant that the grant will not be 
automatically effective.
    (4) An application seeking to discontinue, reduce, or impair such a 
data service that has been grandfathered under this section for 180 
days or more preceding the filing of the application, shall be 
automatically granted on the 31st day after its filing with the 
Commission without any Commission notification to the applicant, unless 
the Commission has notified the applicant that the grant will not be 
automatically effective.

PART 68--CONNECTION OF TERMINAL EQUIPMENT TO THE TELEPHONE NETWORK

0
6. The authority citation for part 68 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 610.

0
7. Amend Sec.  68.105 by revising paragraph (d)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  68.105   Minimum point of entry (MPOE) and demarcation point.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (4) The provider of wireline telecommunications services shall make 
available information on the location of the demarcation point within 
ten business days of a request from the premises owner. If the provider 
of wireline telecommunications services does not provide the 
information within that time, the premises owner may presume the 
demarcation point to be at the MPOE. Notwithstanding the provisions of 
Sec.  68.110(b), provider of wireline telecommunications services must 
make this information freely available to the requesting premises 
owner.
* * * * *


Sec.  68.110   [Amended]

0
8. Amend Sec.  68.110 by removing paragraph (b) and redesignating 
paragraph (c) as paragraph (b).

[FR Doc. 2018-14570 Filed 7-6-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6712-01-P