[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 142 (Tuesday, July 24, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 34974-34980]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-15158]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 52

[WC Docket No. 18-28, CC Docket No. 95-155; FCC 18-77]


Text-Enabled Toll Free Numbers; Toll Free Service Access Codes

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission adopts 
a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment to determine how 
a toll free subscriber should make clear its authorization to text-
enable a toll free number. To ensure that a toll free subscriber has 
indeed authorized a toll free number to be text-enabled, the NPRM 
proposes requiring a toll free subscriber to inform its Responsible 
Organization (RespOrg) of that authorization and for the RespOrg to 
update the appropriate records in the toll free SMS Database. The NPRM 
also seeks comment on what other information, in addition to an SMS 
Database record reflecting that toll free number has been text-enabled, 
if any, needs to be captured and centrally managed to protect the 
integrity of the toll free numbering system, and whether such 
information should be captured in the SMS Database or some other toll 
free registry. The intended effect of this NPRM is to clarify and 
ensure that the toll free SMS Database accurately reflects which toll 
free numbers are text enabled.

DATES: Comments are due on or before August 23, 2018, and reply 
comments are due on or before September 7, 2018. Written comments on 
the Paperwork Reduction Act proposed information collection 
requirements must be submitted by the public, Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB), and other interested parties on or before September 24, 
2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by both WC Docket No. 
18-28, and CC Docket No. 95-155 by any of the following methods:
    [ssquf] Federal Communications Commission's Website: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
    [ssquf] Mail: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an 
original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or 
rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, 
by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission. 
All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the 
Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 
12th St. SW, Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 
8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with 
rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of 
before entering the building. Commercial overnight mail (other than 
U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 
9050 Junction Drive, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701. U.S. Postal Service 
first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th 
Street SW, Washington DC 20554.
    [ssquf] People With Disabilities: To request materials in 
accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, 
electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or 
call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 
(voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document. In addition to filing comments 
with the Secretary, a copy of any comments on the Paperwork Reduction 
Act information collection requirements contained herein should be 
submitted to the Federal Communications Commission via email to 
[email protected] and to Nicole Ongele, Federal Communications Commission, 
via email to [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wireline Competition Bureau, 
Competition Policy Division, E. Alex Espinoza, at (202) 418-0849, or 
[email protected]. For additional information concerning the 
Paperwork Reduction Act information collection requirements contained 
in this document, send an email to [email protected] or contact Nicole Ongele 
at (202) 418-2991.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in WC Docket No. 18-28, and CC Docket No. 
95-155, adopted June 7, 2018, and released June 12, 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 https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-takes-steps-prevent-fraud-toll-free-texting-0.

Synopsis

    1. Introduction. We next turn to how a toll free subscriber should 
make clear its authorization to text-enable a toll free number. To 
ensure that a toll free subscriber has indeed authorized a toll free 
number to be text-enabled, we propose to require a toll free subscriber 
to inform its RespOrg of that authorization and for the RespOrg to 
update the appropriate records in the toll free SMS Database. This 
proposal will ensure that there is a single,

[[Page 34975]]

authoritative registry for what toll free numbers have been text-
enabled by their subscribers. We also seek comment on what other 
information, in addition to an SMS Database record reflecting that the 
toll free number has been text-enabled, if any, needs to be captured 
and centrally managed to protect the integrity of the toll free 
numbering system, and whether such information should be captured in 
the SMS Database or some other toll free registry.
    2. Toll Free Subscriber Responsibility. Our proposal that a toll 
free subscriber notify its RespOrg of its authorization to text-enable 
a toll free number is consistent with our Declaratory Ruling and will 
protect the integrity of our toll free system, both for traditional 
voice service and more recent texting services. Moreover, this 
requirement will ensure that text-enabling information is captured by 
the RespOrg for inclusion in the SMS Database, enabling the TFNA to 
protect the integrity of the toll free number system. Whether that 
information also should be captured in a separate toll free texting 
registry or registries is discussed below.
    3. RespOrg Responsibilities. We seek to make recording a 
subscriber's authorization to text-enable a toll free number as simple 
and efficient as possible to further our policy goal of promoting the 
innovative texting feature of these numbers, while also protecting the 
use of toll free numbers for traditional voice service subscribers. Our 
current rules already establish the role and obligations of a RespOrg 
to ``manage and administer the appropriate records in the toll free 
Service Management System for the toll free subscriber.'' We propose 
that this duty include the duty to update the SMS Database as to 
whether a number has been text-enabled, as well as to update the 
database should the subscriber choose to no longer use its toll free 
number for texting. Do parties agree with this proposed RespOrg 
obligation and the accompanying requirement?
    4. We believe that requiring RespOrgs to update the SMS Database 
when a toll free number is text-enabled will help alleviate concerns 
that unassigned toll free numbers could be text-enabled because the 
RespOrg, in attempting to update the database, would realize if the 
toll free number to be text-enabled is reserved by a RespOrg or not. If 
not, the toll free number may not be text-enabled as clarified in our 
Declaratory Ruling. Are there other approaches we should consider, such 
as the approach recommended by CTIA to allow the industry to decide how 
to implement a toll free subscriber's authorization to text-enable a 
toll free number? What impact would such an approach have on the 
existing toll free system? Are there pros and cons to this approach 
and, if so, what are they? What other issues should we consider with 
respect to documenting a subscriber's authorization to text-enable a 
toll free number?
    5. Text-Enabling Information To Be Captured. We also seek comment 
on what other information--beyond the subscriber's authorization to 
text-enable the toll free number--should be captured and centrally 
managed to avoid confusion about the status of a toll free number and 
to prevent potential abuse, such as spoofing or fraud. Should we 
require inclusion of information such as the business name and address 
of the subscriber? Should we also require inclusion of a point of 
contact who can make decisions pertaining to the number? Should 
information be captured about the messaging provider that text-enabled 
the toll free number, such as its name and contact information? What 
about routing information? Does that information need to be captured in 
a centrally-managed database to ensure that sent text messages are 
properly routed and received? Is there any information that should be 
captured to manage the voice and texting aspects of a toll free number 
and to ensure that voice services are not interrupted by the text-
enabling of the toll free number and vice versa? What other types of 
information might be necessary to protect the integrity of the toll 
free system that should be captured in a centrally managed database?
    6. Where To Include Text-Enabling Information. Are there reasons 
the Commission should establish a separate registry solely to enable 
and manage toll free text messaging, or could all relevant information 
about a text-enabled number simply be captured in a separate field or 
fields in the existing SMS Database? What would be the benefits of a 
separate registry? We note some commenters in the record claim that 
without a centralized toll free texting registry, ``the toll-free voice 
industry is itself threatened because all toll-free number owners are 
now at risk by having their security, branding, and customers 
compromised by this dangerous situation.'' Are there reasons these 
concerns could not be adequately addressed by adding a field to the SMS 
Database to reflect the text-enabling of a toll free number? Are there 
legal or administrative issues to including this information in the 
already established SMS Database? Would there be benefits to having all 
voice and text-enabled numbers registered in the SMS Database?
    7. Alternatively, if parties believe a separate registry is needed, 
who should have access to such a registry? Should it be limited to 
RespOrgs, or open to messaging providers or others (and, if so, whom)? 
Also, should we consider multiple registries or would having a single 
registry be more efficient for the toll free subscriber to address any 
issues or concerns raised by text-enabling and thereby more effectively 
prevent abuse or fraud? Would being able to access a single registry 
rather than multiple registries be less burdensome to RespOrgs and 
messaging providers? Would multiple registries cause confusion for 
entities that text-enable toll free numbers as to which registry to 
use? Would these entities need to know all the registries and be 
required to make sure a text-enabled toll free number is registered 
with each one? How would the Commission, state commissions, or law 
enforcement agencies manage a process that could require accessing 
multiple registries for information on a particular text-enabled toll 
free number? Would the sum of the costs of multiple registry 
administrators be higher than the costs incurred by a single registry 
administrator?
    8. Alternatively, are there benefits to a multi-registry system we 
should consider? CTIA argues that the Commission, ``should not assume 
that the approach to selecting a single vendor of toll free registry 
services in the context of voice telecommunications services should be 
extended to messaging.'' What are the benefits of a multi-registry 
system? Do they outweigh the efficiencies of a single registry? We 
invite interested stakeholders to address these questions.
    9. If we determine that a single toll free texting registry is 
appropriate, should we make, as recommended by some commenters, the 
TFNA the registrar as part of its overall toll free number 
administration responsibilities? The TFNA has developed a toll free 
texting registry--the ``TSS Registry''--which is being used by some 
industry members. Some commenters support its use as the single 
registry of text-enabled toll free numbers, and maintain that the TFNA 
is the proper entity to operate the toll free texting registry; it has 
already been deemed ``impartial'' by the Commission and is required to 
make toll free numbers available ``on an equitable basis'' pursuant to 
section 251(e)(1) of the Act. Would Somos, the current TFNA, be neutral 
in its role as operator of the toll free texting registry?
    10. On the other hand, some commenters oppose designating the 
current SMS Database or TSS Registry as the single authorized text-
enabled toll

[[Page 34976]]

free registry. Would such an approach ``lock the wireless industry into 
a monopoly relationship with Somos''? Would allowing Somos to 
administer both the SMS Database and a separate toll free texting 
registry make the system a more likely target for a Denial of Service 
attack? What other concerns, if any, do commenters have? Are those 
concerns limited to designating Somos to manage the single text-
enabling registry or do they extend to the Commission designating any 
administrator over a single database?
    11. Administration. We seek comment on issues that likely would 
arise should we determine, based on the record, to require a RespOrg to 
record a subscriber's authorization to text-enable a toll free number 
in the SMS Database or to otherwise require such authorization to be 
recorded in any separately managed toll free texting registry. 
Initially, if adopted, our proposed rule would require any entity that 
text-enables a toll free number on behalf of a business or non-profit 
organization to reflect that number in the SMS Database, and we seek 
comment on whether such information also should be captured in any 
separate toll free texting registry. To ensure that we capture all 
text-enabled toll free numbers in any appropriate database or registry, 
we propose to apply this same requirement to those numbers that have 
already been text-enabled. We also propose that in order to effectuate 
this requirement, entities would be required within six months of the 
effective date of the new rule to enter into the SMS Database or any 
toll free texting registry all numbers they had text-enabled. We seek 
comment on these proposals. What registration process should be 
employed to enter all these numbers? Is six months sufficient time for 
the registration process to be completed? Would the benefit of having 
all text-enabled numbers registered outweigh the burden of the 
registration process?
    12. Commission Role. We seek comment on what role, if any, the 
Commission should have in choosing a toll free texting registrar or 
registrars and in overseeing any toll free texting registries. In 
addition, section 251(e) of the Communications Act requires that the 
Commission create or designate one or more impartial entities to 
administer telecommunications numbering. The neutrality criteria set 
forth in Sec.  52.12(a)(1) of our rules explains the statutory 
requirement by adopting a test to establish neutrality. We expect that 
any entity that administers a toll free texting registry must meet the 
neutrality requirements of the Act and our implementing rules, just as 
Somos must meet those requirements in administering the toll free 
number database. We seek comment on these views.
    13. Maintaining Status Quo. Finally, we seek comment on the pros 
and cons of maintaining the status quo and not mandating that 
information about toll free numbers that have been text-enabled be 
captured in either the SMS Database or in a separate toll free text-
enabling registry or registries. Should we take the view that toll free 
texting is a nascent offering which is still evolving, such that the 
Commission should not get involved in the registry issue at this time? 
If so, what are the advantages and disadvantages to such an approach? 
Are there any other potential impacts of our proposals on this emerging 
feature of toll free service?
    14. Legal Authority. As stated above, section 251(e)(1) of the Act 
gives us ``exclusive jurisdiction over those portions of the North 
American Numbering Plan that pertain to the United States'' and 
provides that numbers must be made ``available on an equitable basis.'' 
Under the Commission's rules implementing that section of the Act, a 
toll free subscriber reserves a number in the toll free database in 
order for it to receive calls made to that number. Accordingly, we 
retain ``authority to set policy with respect to all facets of 
numbering administration in the United States.''
    15. In this NPRM, we propose, pursuant to that same authority, that 
a toll free subscriber must inform its RespOrg of its authorization to 
text-enable a toll free number and that the RespOrg must update the 
appropriate records in the SMS Database. We believe these additional 
steps will help safeguard the toll free number assignment process in 
general and the toll free text-enabling process in particular by 
alleviating confusion about the status of a toll free number, and will 
also prevent any potential abuse, such as spoofing or fraud. For this 
reason and those previously discussed in this NPRM, the proposals 
herein further our statutory mandate to set policy on numbering 
administration in the United States. We also seek comment herein on a 
number of additional measures to promote these same goals and that, if 
adopted, would also rely upon our numbering authority under section 
251(e)(1) of the Act. We invite comment on the sources of authority 
discussed above.

I. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    16. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities by the policies and rules 
proposed in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The Commission 
requests written public comments on this IRFA. Comments must be 
identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines 
for comments provided in the DATES section of the NPRM. The Commission 
will send a copy of the NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel 
for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition, 
the NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the 
Federal Register.
A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules
    17. In this NPRM, we propose that a toll free subscriber must 
inform its RespOrg of its authorization to text-enable a toll free 
number and that the RespOrg must update the appropriate records in the 
SMS Database. We believe this proposal will further safeguard the toll 
free text-enabling process, and fulfill our statutory mandate that 
numbers be made available on an equitable basis. We also believe this 
additional step are necessary to avoid any confusion about the status 
of a toll free number and to prevent any potential abuse, such as 
spoofing or fraud. We seek comment by interested stakeholders on this 
proposed rule.
B. Legal Basis
    18. The legal basis for any action that may be taken pursuant to 
this NPRM is contained in sections 1, 4(i), 201(b), and 251(e)(1) of 
the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 
201(b), and 251(e)(1).
C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which 
the Proposed Rules Will Apply
    19. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the proposed rule revisions, if adopted. 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. 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

[[Page 34977]]

additional criteria established by the SBA.
    20. 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 28.8 
million businesses. 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 2007, there were approximately 1,621,215 
small organizations. Finally, the small entity described as a ``small 
governmental jurisdiction'' is defined generally as ``governments of 
cities, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special 
districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.'' U.S. Census 
Bureau data published in 2012 indicate that there were 89,476 local 
governmental jurisdictions in the United States. We estimate that, of 
this total, as many as 88,761 entities may qualify as ``small 
governmental jurisdictions.'' Thus, we estimate that most governmental 
jurisdictions are small.
    21. 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.
    22. 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 Wired Telecommunications Carriers as defined above. 
Under the applicable SBA size standard, such a business is small if it 
has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 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. The 
Commission therefore estimates that most providers of local exchange 
carrier service are small entities that may be affected by the rules 
adopted.
    23. 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 above. 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. Three hundred and seven (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.
    24. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (Competitive LECs), 
Competitive Access Providers (CAPs), Shared-Tenant Service Providers, 
and Other Local Service Providers. Neither the 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 above. 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. Also, 72 carriers have reported that 
they are Other Local Service Providers. Of this total, 70 have 1,500 or 
fewer employees. Consequently, based on internally researched FCC data, 
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.
    25. We have included small incumbent LECs in this present RFA 
analysis. As noted above, a ``small business'' under the RFA is one 
that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size standard 
(e.g., a telephone communications business having 1,500 or fewer 
employees), and ``is not dominant in its field of operation.'' The 
SBA's Office of Advocacy contends that, for RFA purposes, small 
incumbent LECs are not dominant in their field of operation because any 
such dominance is not ``national'' in scope. We have therefore included 
small incumbent LECs in this RFA analysis, although we emphasize that 
this RFA action has no effect on Commission analyses and determinations 
in other, non-RFA contexts.
    26. 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 
above. The applicable size standard under SBA rules is that such a 
business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. U.S. Census data 
for 2012 indicates that 3,117 firms operated during that year. Of that 
number, 3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. According to 
internally developed 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. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the 
majority of IXCs are

[[Page 34978]]

small entities that may be affected by our proposed rule.
    27. Local Resellers. The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for the category of Telecommunications Resellers. The 
Telecommunications Resellers industry comprises establishments engaged 
in purchasing access and network capacity from owners and operators of 
telecommunications networks and reselling wired and wireless 
telecommunications services (except satellite) to businesses and 
households. Establishments in this industry resell telecommunications; 
they do not operate transmission facilities and infrastructure. Mobile 
virtual network operators (MVNOs) are included in this industry. Under 
that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. Census data for 2012 show that 1,341 firms provided resale 
services during that year. Of that number, all operated with fewer than 
1,000 employees. Thus, under this category and the associated small 
business size standard, the majority of these prepaid calling card 
providers can be considered small entities.
    28. Toll Resellers. The Commission has not developed a definition 
for Toll Resellers. The closest NAICS Code Category is 
Telecommunications Resellers. The Telecommunications Resellers industry 
comprises establishments engaged in purchasing access and network 
capacity from owners and operators of telecommunications networks and 
reselling wired and wireless telecommunications services (except 
satellite) to businesses and households. Establishments in this 
industry resell telecommunications; they do not operate transmission 
facilities and infrastructure. Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) 
are included in this industry. The SBA has developed a small business 
size standard for the category of Telecommunications Resellers. Under 
that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. Census data for 2012 show that 1,341 firms provided resale 
services during that year. Of that number, 1,341 operated with fewer 
than 1,000 employees. Thus, under this category and the associated 
small business size standard, the majority of these resellers can be 
considered small entities. According to Commission data, 881 carriers 
have reported that they are engaged in the provision of toll resale 
services. Of this total, an estimated 857 have 1,500 or fewer 
employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of 
toll resellers are small entities.
    29. Other Toll Carriers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has 
developed a definition 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 above. Under the 
applicable SBA 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 internally developed 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 are small entities 
that may be affected by the proposed rules, herein adopted.
    30. Prepaid Calling Card Providers. The SBA has developed a 
definition for small businesses within the category of 
Telecommunications Resellers. Under that SBA definition, such a 
business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to the 
Commission's Form 499 Filer Database, 500 companies reported that they 
were engaged in the provision of prepaid calling cards. The Commission 
does not have data regarding how many of these 500 companies have 1,500 
or fewer employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that there 
are 500 or fewer prepaid calling card providers that may be affected by 
the rules.
    31. Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (Except Satellite). This 
industry comprises establishments engaged in operating and maintaining 
switching and transmission facilities to provide communications via the 
airwaves. Establishments in this industry have spectrum licenses and 
provide services using that spectrum, 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, U.S. 
Census data for 2012 show that there were 967 firms that operated for 
the entire year. Of this total, 955 firms had employment of 999 or 
fewer employees and 12 had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus 
under this category and the associated size standard, the Commission 
estimates that the majority of wireless telecommunications carriers 
(except satellite) are small entities.
    32. The Commission's own data--available in its Universal Licensing 
System--indicate that, as of October 25, 2016, there are 280 Cellular 
licensees that will be affected by our actions today. The Commission 
does not know how many of these licensees are small, as the Commission 
does not collect that information for these types of 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, 
and Specialized Mobile Radio Telephony services. Of this total, an 
estimated 261 have 1,500 or fewer employees, and 152 have more than 
1,500 employees. Thus, using available data, we estimate that the 
majority of wireless firms can be considered small.
    33. Wireless Communications Services. This service can be used for 
fixed, mobile, radiolocation, and digital audio broadcasting satellite 
uses. The Commission defined ``small business'' for the wireless 
communications services (WCS) auction as an entity with average gross 
revenues of $40 million for each of the three preceding years, and a 
``very small business'' as an entity with average gross revenues of $15 
million for each of the three preceding years. The SBA has approved 
these definitions.
    34. Wireless Telephony. Wireless telephony includes cellular, 
personal communications services, and specialized mobile radio 
telephony carriers. As noted, the SBA has developed a small business 
size standard for Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except 
Satellite). Under the SBA small business size standard, a business is 
small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 
413 carriers reported that they were engaged in wireless telephony. Of 
these, an estimated 261 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 152 have more 
than 1,500 employees. Therefore, a little less than one third of these 
entities can be considered small.
    35. Cable and Other Subscription Programming. This industry 
comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating studios and 
facilities for the broadcasting of programs on a subscription or fee 
basis. The broadcast programming is typically narrowcast in

[[Page 34979]]

nature (e.g., limited format, such as news, sports, education, or 
youth-oriented). These establishments produce programming in their own 
facilities or acquire programming from external sources. The 
programming material is usually delivered to a third party, such as 
cable systems or direct-to-home satellite systems, for transmission to 
viewers. The SBA has established a size standard for this industry 
stating that a business in this industry is small if it has 1,500 or 
fewer employees. The 2012 Economic Census indicates that 367 firms were 
operational for that entire year. Of this total, 357 operated with less 
than 1,000 employees. Accordingly we conclude that a substantial 
majority of firms in this industry are small under the applicable SBA 
size standard.
    36. 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 eleven 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.
    37. Cable System Operators (Telecom Act Standard). The 
Communications Act 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 1 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.'' There 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. Although it seems certain that some of 
these cable system operators are affiliated with entities whose gross 
annual revenues exceed $250 million, 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.
    38. All Other Telecommunications. The ``All Other 
Telecommunications'' 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 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, U.S. 
Census data for 2012 show that there were 1,442 firms that operated for 
the entire year. Of these firms, a total of 1,400 had gross annual 
receipts of less than $25 million. Thus a majority of ``All Other 
Telecommunications'' firms potentially affected by our action can be 
considered small.
D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements for Small Entities
    39. The NPRM proposes and seeks comment on a rule change that will 
affect toll free text-enablement. In particular, we propose a revised 
definition for the Service Management System Database Sec.  52.101(d). 
The NPRM seeks comment on this proposal.
E. Steps Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered
    40. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, 
specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in 
reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four 
alternatives (among others): (1) The establishment of differing 
compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into 
account the resources available to small entities; (2) the 
clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and 
reporting requirements under the rules for such small entities; (3) the 
use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption 
from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for such small 
entities.
    41. In this NPRM, we propose that a toll free subscriber must 
inform its RespOrg of its authorization to text-enable a toll free 
number and that the RespOrg must update the appropriate records in the 
SMS Database. We believe this proposal will further safeguard the toll 
free text-enabling process, and fulfill our statutory mandate that 
numbers be made available on an equitable basis. The NPRM also seeks 
comment on administrative issues to implement the proposed registry 
that would not be overly burdensome on RespOrgs and messaging 
providers. For example, we seek comment on whether toll free texting 
information should be included in the SMS Database or if there should 
be a single toll free texting registry, as opposed to multiple 
registries, to limit burden on RespOrgs and messaging providers some of 
which may be small entities.
F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rules
    42. None.

II. Procedural Matters

A. Comment Filing Procedures
    43. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's 
rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and 
reply comments on or before the dates indicated in the DATES section of 
this document in Dockets WC 17-192, and CC 95-155. Comments may be 
filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). 
See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 
24121 (1998).
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the internet by accessing the ECFS: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/.
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket 
or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.
    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial

[[Page 34980]]

overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service 
mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, 
Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th St. SW, Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours 
are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together 
with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be 
disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive, 
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554.
     People With Disabilities: To request materials in 
accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, 
electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or 
call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 
(voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).
    44. This proceeding shall be treated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' 
proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons 
making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written 
presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within 
two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline 
applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex 
parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the 
presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise 
participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was 
made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during 
the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of 
the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the 
presenter's written comments, memoranda or other filings in the 
proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or 
arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings 
(specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data 
or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the 
memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex 
parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must 
be filed consistent with Sec.  1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by 
Sec.  1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method 
of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda 
summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, 
must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available 
for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., 
.doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding 
should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.
B. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
    45. Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the 
Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
(IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities of 
the policies and actions considered in this Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking. The text of the IRFA is set forth above. Written public 
comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as 
responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comment on 
the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, will send a 
copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the IRFA, to the 
Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA).
C. Paperwork Reduction Act
    46. This document may contain proposed new or modified information 
collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing 
effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information 
collection requirements contained in this document, as required by the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In addition, 
pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 
107-198, we seek specific comment on how we might further reduce the 
information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer 
than 25 employees.
D. Contact Person
    47. For further information about this proceeding, please contact 
E. Alex Espinoza, FCC Wireline Competition Bureau, Competition Policy 
Division, Room 5-C211, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554, at 
(202) 418-0849 or [email protected]

III. Ordering Clauses

    1. Accordingly, it is ordered, pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 
201(b), and 251(e) of the Communication Act of 1934, as amended, 47 
U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 201(b), and 251(e)(1) that this Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking is adopted.
    2. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the IRFA, to the 
Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 52

    Numbering.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene Dortch,
Secretary.

Proposed Rules

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend part 52 of title 47 of the 
Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

PART 52--NUMBERING

0
1. The authority citation for part 52 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  Authority: 47 U.S.C. 151-55, 201-05, 207-09, 218, 
225-27, 251-52, 271, 332 unless otherwise noted.

Subpart D--Toll Free Numbers

0
2. Amend Sec.  52.101 by revising paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  52.101  General definitions.

* * * * *
    (d) Service Management System Database (``SMS Database''). The 
administrative database system for toll free numbers. The Service 
Management System is a computer system that enables Responsible 
Organizations to enter and amend the data about toll free numbers 
within their control, including whether a toll free number has been 
text-enabled. The Service Management System shares this information 
with the Service Control Points. The entire system is the SMS Database.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2018-15158 Filed 7-23-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6712-01-P