CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI
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
With today’s Order and accompanying rulemakings, the Commission takes another step forward
in our ongoing efforts to retool the agency for the digital age and to remove barriers to private investment,
innovation and job creation.
We live in a world imagined by Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Marc Andreessen and other visionaries,
but too many of the FCC rules and processes we inherited were built for the world of Alexander Graham
That’s why I made agency reform a top priority when I arrived in 2009. One of my first acts was
to appoint a special counsel for FCC reform, and I directed her to lead an agency-wide effort to look hard
and honestly at our rules, to propose eliminating ones that don’t make sense or have outlived their
usefulness, and to make sure that the benefits of any rule we adopt outweigh the costs.
I also welcomed President Obama’s Executive Order calling on all executive departments and
agencies to review rules and regulations to ensure they are designed “in a cost-effective manner consistent
with the goals of promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation” – and we
have done just that here at the FCC, even as an independent agency not covered by the Order.
These efforts have yielded results. Since January 2010, the Commission has eliminated more
than 300 outdated regulations and eliminated dozens of reporting requirements. We have also
streamlined data collections, reduced backlogs, and sped processing times. For example, we’ve cut the
time to review routine wireless transactions by more than half, and we’ve almost entirely eliminated our
satellite space station licensing backlog – cutting it from 90 applications in June 2009 to just seven in
In every case, we’ve preserved or strengthened vital protections for consumers and competition,
as well as the Commission’s access to the data it genuinely needs, even while eliminating rules and
reports that no longer make sense.
We brought this same approach to today’s Order. Last year, USTelecom, on behalf of its member
telephone companies, sought broad forbearance relief from dozens of regulatory requirements in 17
different categories. In February, the Commission granted forbearance from three categories of rules that
were unnecessary or outdated.
Today, the Commission removes the majority of burdens identified by USTelecom and grants
forbearance from an additional 123 regulations in 11 categories covered by USTelecom’s petition. For
example: We forbear from prepaid calling card reporting requirements that required over 15,000 hours of
compliance work each year. We eliminate requirements that phone companies keep certain paper records,
which make little sense in the age of digital databases. And we streamline requirements for companies’
property records, which previously required a level of detail that has not been used by the Commission in
over a decade. With 126 regulations removed, we’re talking about millions of dollars in savings, which
will ultimately result in a more dynamic, competitive market and lower prices for consumers.
Even where USTelecom failed to show that forbearance is appropriate under the statute, the
Commission is taking steps on its own, through Notices of Proposed Rulemaking or Public Notices
refreshing the record, to examine more deeply whether some of the remaining requirements may be
streamlined or reduced.
At the same time, today’s order unanimously preserves those requirements that remain essential
to our fundamental mission to ensure competition, consumer protection, universal service, and public
safety, and rejects requests that would short-circuit the ongoing work of the Technology Transitions Task
Force. For example, we protect consumers’ right to notice when services are being eliminated, a vital
protection as we move forward on trials of wireline to wireless, TDM to IP, and copper to fiber
Likewise, even as we eliminate reporting and recordkeeping requirements, it remains critical that
the Commission have access to timely, relevant data to drive smart decisionmaking, particularly as we
move to broadband all-IP networks. Which is why the kind of relief we grant in today’s Order goes hand
in hand with the essential work we’re doing to strengthen the Commission’s broadband data, on
initiatives like the National Broadband Map, Form 477 reform, the Measuring Broadband America report,
and our business broadband data collection in the special access proceeding.
I thank my colleagues for their contributions, which have helped improve this item. And I
particularly thank the excellent teams in the Wireline and Enforcement Bureaus and the Office of General
Counsel for many long hours and late nights in getting today’s detailed and comprehensive Order and
NPRMs over the finish line.