COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI
APPROVING IN PART AND CONCURRING IN PARTRe:
Petition of USTelecom for Forbearance Under 47 U.S.C. § 160(c) from Enforcement of Certain
Legacy Telecommunications Regulations et al., WC Docket Nos. 12-61, 10-132, 09-206, 08-225,
08-190, 07-273, 07-204, 07-139, 07-21, 05-342, CC Docket Nos. 02-39, 00-175, 95-20, 98-10
It’s amazing (and somewhat disturbing) what you can find when you crack open Title 47 of the
U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Take the Commission’s rules on basic property records and
continuing property records.1 These rules require a company to label each and every piece of central
office equipment, from a million-dollar switch down to a $10 plug-in circuit board, to track how much it
cost to buy, and to detail exactly where it’s located (with specificity, meaning where on what shelf in
which room in which building). If the $10 plug-in circuit board lasts 30 years, the company has to keep
records for 30 years and update them each time the plug-in circuit board moves.2 The only silver lining?
These rules burden only a subset of companies (i.e., incumbent local exchange carriers) and cover only
regulated assets (i.e., plant for the public switched telephone network).
Or ponder Commission rule 64.1903, which requires a telephone company that offers long-
distance service to do so through a separate affiliate—the old structural separation requirement crafted in
the 1980s.3 Of course, it doesn’t apply if a company entered the telephone business after 1996. Or is a
reseller. Or a cable operator. Or a commercial mobile radio service provider. Or a mobile satellite
service provider. Or an interconnected Voice-over-Internet-Protocol service provider. Or one of the three
Bell operating companies. In other words, we still have structural separation requirements, but only for
the independent companies that encompass a fraction of the market and were never part of Ma Bell in the
Or consider the comparably efficient interconnection (CEI) requirements, a regulatory penumbra
around rule 64.702 created by the Computer Inquiry III orders of the late 1980s. Under this regime, when
a telephone company wants to “enhance” its basic telephone service, such as by letting customers dial *98
to access voicemail,4 it must post a CEI plan that goes through a multi-step checklist designed to protect
non-facilities-based narrowband competitors. Although the Commission intended the filing of CEI plans
to be an interim measure5 designed to protect the then-nascent enhanced services industry, the
requirement remains on our books over two decades later. And while independent voicemail, facsimile
services, and the like may be worthwhile services, one can only wonder why the Commission should
spend its limited resources protecting these narrowband, legacy industries in the era of ubiquitous
broadband and mobile apps.
No more—or at least not much longer. Today we establish a process to relieve carriers of some
of these outdated rules so long as they draw up, file, and get FCC approval of a compliance plan that
better matches the Commission’s needs with the carrier’s obligations. We also launch several
rulemakings aimed at repealing and streamlining other rules.
I will be the first to admit that I wish we had gone further, faster. For example, much sooner than
1 47 C.F.R. § 32.2000(e), (f).
2 See Letter from Bennett L. Ross, Counsel for United States Telecom Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, WC Docket No. 12-61, at 15 (Apr. 18, 2013).
3 47 C.F.R. § 64.1903.
4 See, e.g., Amendment to Comparably Efficient Interconnection Plan for Voice-Mail Services for AT&T Inc.’s
Operating Companies, available at https://ebiznet.att.com/cei/plans/amendment_vm_plan_star98_113012.doc.
5 Amendment of Section 64.702 of the Commission’s Rules and Regulations, CC Docket No. 85-229, Further Notice
of Proposed Rulemaking, 13 FCC Rcd 6040, 6077, para. 61 (1998).
fifteen months after the petition was filed, I would have granted the same relief to independent carriers
that we previously afforded AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest—especially as no one opposed that part of the
But today’s order is a product of bipartisan compromise, an important first step that holds out the
hope for continuing reform. As the proverb goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single
step.” I look forward to continuing to working with my colleagues as we continue this journey.
Finally, I want to thank the Commission staff who spent countless hours working on this item,
including Julie Veach, Claude Aiken, Eric Bash, Michele Berlove, Bill Dever, Lisa Gelb, Victoria
Goldberg, Kalpak Gude, Athula Gunaratne, Paul Hartman, Sherry Herauf, Diane Griffin Holland, John
Hunter, Alex Johns, William Kehoe, Christopher Killion, Doug Klein, Robert Krinsky, Greg Kwan, Sean
Lev, Travis Litman, Marcus Maher, Carol Mattey, Jodie May, Rodney McDonald, Betsy McIntyre,
Claudia Pabo, Wesley Platt, Jennifer Prime, Marv Sacks, Deena Shetler, Chris Sova, Steve Steckler,
Jamie Susskind, Suzanne Tetreault, Matthew Warner, Rodger Woock, Suzanne Yelen, David Zesiger, and
Cathy Zima. Your dedication to rigorous analysis and the public interest will be all the more necessary as
the Commission proceeds with the rulemakings we launch today to reform our accounting systems. But
take heart; as a sage government employee once said, “It ain’t government work if you don’t have to do it
6 Jerry Gergich, Parks and Recreation (ep. 418, 2012).
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