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Guide

Steps For Consumers When Their Phone Company May End Service

Discontinuance of Telecommunications Service

  • Consumers receiving a discontinuance letter should start looking for another carrier immediately. The FCC will normally grant the carrier authority to discontinue service unless it is shown that alternative service isn't available.
     
  • Contact the FCC and your state Public Utility Commission immediately if alternative service isn't available.

Q & A

Q. How do I find another carrier?
A.
The letter you received from your carrier may identify alternative carriers in the area. You can also:


  • Search the FCC's database of providers.
  • Check your state Public Utility Commission.
  • Check your yellow pages for similar providers.
  • See if your local cable company offers telephone service.
  • Consider "cutting the cord" and going wireless.
  • Consider VoIP service, which uses your broadband Internet connection to provide phone service.

Q. How soon before my carrier can shut down my domestic phone service?
A.
Typically, 31 days from the date of the FCC's Public Notice informing the public that the carrier intends to stop service. The proposed discontinuance date will be included in the Public Notice.

Q. Can I keep my old phone number when I find a new provider?
A.
Yes, in most cases. The FCC's number portability rules still apply in discontinuances.

Q. What if I can't get service from any other company?
A.
Tell the FCC as soon as possible by filing comments. Also notify your state Public Utility Commission. The FCC can deny or limit a proposed discontinuance if consumers will be left without telephone service or a reasonable substitute.

Q. How do I file comments?
A.
You can file electronically or in writing.

Mail written comments to:

Office of the Secretary
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St. SW, Room TW-A325
Washington, D.C. 20554

Copy the Competition Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau.

For electronic filings:

  • Go to the FCC's Discontinuance page and look for the public notice regarding your carrier's discontinuance application.
  • Record the docket number.
  • Go to the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System. Put the docket number in the "Proceeding" field and provide your comments in the fields below the cover sheet.

Q. What should I tell the FCC?
A.
You should tell the FCC:

  • The carrier's name.
  • When you received the notice of discontinuance.
  • How the discontinuance would affect you.
  • The steps you have taken to find substitute service, and any difficulties you have encountered.
  • What you would like the FCC to do.

Q. How long do I have to file comments?
A.
File as soon as possible. The FCC's rules require that you file no later than 15 days after the FCC releases the public notice for some carriers, known as "non-dominant" carriers. If your carrier is the dominant one in the market, you must file no later than 30 days after release of the public notice.

Q. What if I have other questions?
A.
If you have other questions:

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