Last week in the Federal Register, the FCC invited Paperwork Reduction Act comments on the new network change notifications in its Copper Retirement Order (see JSI’s August 11, 2015 e-Lert). Companies now have until December 28 to comment to the FCC on the effort required to comply with these requirements.

Note, the network notification requirement for copper retirement is not yet in effect for any carriers until the full Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval is published. These network notification requirements use Section 251(c) as the FCC legal authority to change the rules. Most rural companies have retained their rural exemption from 251(c) requirements so they should not have to comply even after the rules become effective. The FCC staff did recognize in the October 28 Federal Register notice that carriers with a rural exemption would not be considered small entities impacted by the new network notification rules:

The number of respondents as to the information collection requirements implemented under section 251(c)(5) of the Act, has changed from 1,300 to 750, a decrease of 550 respondents from the previous submission. Under section 251(f)(1) of the Act, rural telephone companies are exempt from the requirements of section 251(c) ‘‘until (i) such company has received a bona fide request for interconnection, services, or network elements, and (ii) the State commission determines … that such request is not unduly economically burdensome, is technically feasible, and is consistent with section 254 …’’ The Commission has determined that the number of potential respondents set forth in the previous submission inadvertently failed to take this exemption into account.

JSI continues its efforts to obtain a more formal recognition from the FCC that carriers with a 251(f)(1) exemption from the 251(c) requirements do not have to comply with the new network notification rules.

In the meantime, no carrier is required to make network notifications concerning their copper retirements until the rules become effective, expected to be some time in 2016.  Until then, companies can continue to retire copper plant and migrate customers from copper to fiber according to their current practices.

If you have any questions, please contact Valerie Wimer at 301-459-7590.

Source: JSI e-Lert