Discontinuance of Telecommunications Service
What Companies and Bankruptcy Professionals Must Do
You must notify your customers in writing as far in advance as possible if you are going to discontinue, reduce or impair domestic service for any reason, even if you may file or have filed for bankruptcy.
Your letter must include:
- Carrier name and address
- Date you plan to discontinue service
- Geographic areas affected
- Description of your service
Notice of the customer's right to file comments with the FCC, including deadlines and information they should include in their comments.
See FCC Rules (47 CFR Sec. 63.71) for more details.
All companies, whether or not they are under bankruptcy protection, must comply with the FCC's discontinuance rules. The FCC may impose penalties on carriers for failing to comply with the rules.
On or after the date on which you provide written notice to your customers, you must file an application with the FCC.
Before you send the application to the FCC, you must pay all outstanding debts owed to the FCC. If you owe the FCC money but filed for bankruptcy protection, you must notify the Office of Managing Director in writing. The FCC will not release a Public Notice on your discontinuance application if you are red-lighted in the FCC's system (meaning you owe the FCC money).
On or before the date you send the application to the FCC, you must also notify and submit a copy of the application to the Secretary of Defense, the state PUCs and the governors of the states in which service will be affected.
The FCC will issue a public notice triggering the start of a public comment period.
- Normally, the FCC will automatically grant the discontinuance application within 31 days after release of the public notice for non-dominant carriers and 60 days for dominant carriers, unless the FCC notifies you that the application will not be automatically granted.
NOTE: This web page provides only general guidelines. Companies discontinuing domestic operations must follow all FCC Rules (47 CFR Section 63.71) and Section 214 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (link in left-hand navigation panel).
Q & A
Q. What kind of carriers do the discontinuance rules apply to?
A. The rules apply to all carriers, including competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs), incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), and long-distance carriers, including resellers.
Q. Where do I get a sample discontinuance application?
A. View other applications that have been filed with the FCC.
- Go to the Discontinuance page on the FCC web site
- Open one of the public notices on the page
- Record the docket number
- Enter the docket number in the Proceedings field on the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System page
- Search for the application
Q. How do I file the application with the FCC?
A. Submit your application through the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) by selecting “Section 214 Domestic Discontinuance Application” from the “Submit a Non-Docketed Filing” module of ECFS. The filing must include the application, as well as all attachments. Paper copies of your application should no longer be filed with the Office of the Secretary. Assuming the application satisfies initial procedural review, Bureau staff will give the application its own case-specific ECFS docket number and continue review in accordance with the Commission’s domestic section 214 discontinuance rules. Once its review is complete, the Bureau will release a Public Notice seeking comment on the proposed discontinuance.
Q. How long before I can discontinue service?
A. Normally, the FCC will automatically grant the domestic discontinuance application within 31 days for non-dominant carriers and 60 days for dominant carriers, unless the FCC notifies you that the grant will not be automatically granted.
Q. How will I know when the public notice comes out?
A. Check the FCC's discontinuance web site.
Q. What if I filed for bankruptcy and may not be able to fund operations up to the date when the FCC grants me authority to stop service?
A. At a minimum, carriers that anticipate difficulty in fully complying with discontinuance rules should inform the Commission as soon as possible to avoid a loss of service to customers. All carriers, including those in bankruptcy, are responsible for compliance with section 214 of the Act and the FCC's discontinuance rules. The FCC may impose penalties for failing to comply with these rules.
Q. What are the penalties for failing to comply with FCC discontinuance rules?
A. The base forfeiture is $5,000 per violation. This amount may be subject to either upward or downward adjustment depending on the facts of a particular case.
Q. Whom can I contact at the FCC concerning discontinuance of domestic service?
A. Contact the Competition Policy Division of the Wireline Competition Bureau at 202-418-1580.
Q. What is the statute governing discontinuance of service?
A. Section 214 of the Communications Act of 1934.
Q. What FCC rules govern the discontinuance of domestic service?
A. 47 CFR Sec. 63.71
Q. Are there different rules that govern the discontinuance of international service?
A. Yes, 47 CFR Sec. 63.19.
Q. Whom can I contact at the FCC concerning discontinuance of international service?
A. Contact the Policy Division of the International Bureau at 202-418-1460.