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Proposed Rule

Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service: Promoting Deployment and Subscribership in Unserved and Underserved Areas, Including Tribal and Insular Areas

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AGENCY:

Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rules.

SUMMARY:

In this document, the Commission seeks comment on the adoption of a rule that would require resolution of the merits of any request for designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier under section 214(e) of the Telecom Act, filed either with this Commission or a state commission, to be resolved within six months of the filing date, or some shorter period. We also seek comment on alternative methods by which state commissions, tribal authorities, and this Commission can work together to further facilitate the expeditious resolution of designation requests from carriers serving tribal lands.

DATES:

Comments are due August 7, 2000 and reply comments are due August 28, 2000.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gene Fullano, Attorney, Common Carrier Bureau, Accounting Policy Division, (202) 418-7400.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This is a summary of the Commission's Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in CC Docket No. 96-45 released on June 30, 2000. The full text of this document is available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-A257, 445 Twelfth Street, SW., Washington, DC, 20554.

I. Introduction

1. In this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we seek comment on the adoption of a rule that would require resolution of the merits of any request for designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier under section 214(e) of the Telecom Act, filed either with this Commission or a state commission, to be resolved within six months of the filing date, or some shorter period. We also seek comment on alternative methods by which state commissions, tribal authorities, and this Commission can work together to further facilitate the expeditious resolution of designation requests from carriers serving tribal lands.

2. The Commission will take action in a further proceeding to address the remaining issues raised in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), 64 FR 52738 (September 30, 1999), that are not addressed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. In particular, we will continue to examine and address the causes of low subscribership in other areas and among other populations, especially among low-income individuals in rural and insular areas. In addition, in areas where the cost to deploy telecommunications facilities is significantly above the national average, we anticipate that additional action may be necessary to encourage such deployment. Providing appropriate incentives for the deployment of facilities in such locations will be central to the issues that we will address, in consultation with the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service (Joint Board) in our consideration of rules to implement section 214(e)(3) of the Telecom Act and in considering the recommendations of the Joint Board for high-cost universal service reform for rural carriers.

II. Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

3. Deadline for Resolving Section 214(e) of the Telecom Act Designation Requests. In this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we seek comment on the imposition of a time limit during which requests for designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier under section 214(e) of the Telecom Act, filed either with this Commission or a state commission, must be resolved. As noted, we are concerned that lengthy delays in addressing requests for designation may hinder the availability of affordable telecommunications services in many high-cost areas of the Nation. We believe it is unreasonable to expect a prospective entrant to enter a high-cost market and provide service in competition with an incumbent carrier that is receiving support, without knowing whether it is eligible to receive support. If new entrants do not have the same opportunity to receive universal service support as the incumbent, such carriers may be unable to provide service and compete with the incumbent in high-cost areas. As the Commission has previously concluded, competitively neutral access to such support is critical to ensuring that all Americans, including those that live in high-cost areas, have access to affordable telecommunications services. We believe such a result to be contrary to Congress' intent in adopting section 254 of the Telecom Act.

4. We therefore seek comment on whether to adopt a rule that would require resolution of the merits of any request for designation under section 214(e) of the Telecom Act within a six-month period, or some shorter period. In addition, we seek comment on whether to require a similar time limit for the resolution of the jurisdictional issues associated with requests for eligibility designations on tribal lands, and what that time limit should be. We intend to consult with members of the Joint Board on this issue and invite comment from the Joint Board and interested parties. We also seek on comment on the Commission's authority to enforce any such requirement imposed on state commissions. For example, we seek comment on our authority under sections 201(b), 253, 254 of the Telecom Act, or AT&T v. Iowa Utilities Board to enforce any deadline imposed on resolution of requests for eligibility designations under section 214(e) of the Telecom Act.

5. Alternative Frameworks for Resolving Designation Requests. In light of the immediate need for expeditious resolution of designation requests from carriers serving tribal lands, we have adopted a framework for resolving designation requests filed at the Commission under section 214(e)(6) of the Telecom Act. This framework is designed to streamline the process for designation of eligible telecommunications carriers serving tribal lands in order to expedite the availability of affordable telecommunications services to tribal Start Printed Page 47942communities. We are guided, however, by our desire to work cooperatively with the state commissions and tribal authorities to consider alternative methods for facilitating the expeditious resolution of eligibility designation requests. We therefore seek comment on additional ways in which the state commissions, tribal authorities, and this Commission can work together toward this end. We look forward to collaborating further with state commissions and tribal leaders to consider additional measures we can take to resolve eligibility designation requests on tribal lands as expeditiously as possible.

III. Procedural Matters

A. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

6. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities by the policies and rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking provided. The Commission will send a copy of the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. In addition, the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.

(1) Need for and Objectives of the Proposed Rules

7. The Commission issues the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking contained herein as a part of its implementation of the Act's mandate that “[c]onsumers in all regions of the Nation * * * have access to telecommunications and information services * * *”. The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on rules setting a deadline for the consideration of petitions for designation of carriers as eligible telecommunications carriers under section 214(e) of the Telecom Act for the purposes of receiving universal service support under section 254(e) of the Telecom Act. The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking also seeks comment on alternative methods for facilitating expeditious resolution of eligibility designation requests. Our objective is to fulfill section 254 of the Telecom Act's mandate that “all regions of the Nation * * * have access to telecommunications” with respect to tribal lands, which have the lowest reported subscribership levels for telecommunications in the Nation.

2. Legal Basis

8. The legal basis as proposed for this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is contained in section 254 of the Telecom Act.

3. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which Rules Will Apply

9. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of and, where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules. The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act. A small business concern is one that: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA). A small organization is generally “any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.” Nationwide, as of 1992, there were approximately 275,801 small organizations. And finally, “small governmental jurisdiction” generally means “governments of cities, counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of less than 50,000.” As of 1992, there were approximately 85,006 such jurisdictions in the United States. This number includes 38,978 counties, cities, and towns; of these, 37,566, or 96 percent, have populations of fewer than 50,000. The Census Bureau estimates that this ratio is approximately accurate for all governmental entities. Thus, of the 85,006 governmental entities, we estimate that 81,600 (91 percent) are small entities. The new rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking may affect all providers of interstate telecommunications and interstate telecommunications services. We further describe and estimate the number of small business concerns that may be affected by the rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

10. The SBA has defined a small business for Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) categories 4812 (Radiotelephone Communications) and 4813 (Telephone Communications, Except Radiotelephone) to be small entities when they have no more than 1,500 employees. We first discuss the number of small telephone companies falling within these SIC categories, then attempt to refine further those estimates to correspond with the categories of telecommunications companies that are commonly used under our rules.

11. The most reliable source of information regarding the total numbers of common carrier and related providers nationwide, including the numbers of commercial wireless entities, appears to be data the Commission publishes annually in its Carrier Locator report, derived from filings made in connection with the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). According to data in the most recent report, there are 4,144 interstate carriers. These carriers include, inter alia, incumbent local exchange carriers, competitive local exchange carriers, competitive access providers, interexchange carriers, other wireline carriers and service providers (including shared-tenant service providers and private carriers), operator service providers, pay telephone operators, providers of telephone toll service, wireless carriers and services providers, and resellers.

12. We have included small incumbent LECs in this present RFA analysis. As noted, a “small business” under the RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size standard (e.g., a telephone communications business having 1,500 or fewer employees), and “is not dominant in its field of operation.” The SBA's Office of Advocacy contends that, for RFA purposes, small incumbent LECs are not dominant in their field of operation because any such dominance is not “national” in scope. We have therefore included small incumbent LECs in this RFA analysis, although we emphasize that this RFA action has no effect on Commission analyses and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts.

13. Total Number of Telephone Companies Affected. The United States Bureau of the Census (“the Census Bureau”) reports that, at the end of 1992, there were 3,497 firms engaged in providing telephone services, as defined therein, for at least one year. This number contains a variety of different categories of carriers, including local exchange carriers, interexchange carriers, competitive access providers, cellular carriers, mobile service carriers, operator service providers, pay telephone operators, PCS providers, covered SMR providers, and resellers. It seems certain that some of those 3,497 Start Printed Page 47943telephone service firms may not qualify as small entities or small incumbent LECs because they are not “independently owned and operated.” For example, a PCS provider that is affiliated with an interexchange carrier having more than 1,500 employees would not meet the definition of a small business. It seems reasonable to conclude, therefore, that fewer than 3,497 telephone service firms are small entity telephone service firms or small incumbent LECs that may be affected by the rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

14. Wireline Carriers and Service Providers. SBA has developed a definition of small entities for telephone communications companies other than radiotelephone companies. The Census Bureau reports that, there were 2,321 such telephone companies in operation for at least one year at the end of 1992. According to SBA's definition, a small business telephone company other than a radiotelephone company is one employing no more than 1,500 persons. All but 26 of the 2,321 non-radiotelephone companies listed by the Census Bureau were reported to have fewer than 1,000 employees. Thus, even if all 26 of those companies had more than 1,500 employees, there would still be 2,295 non-radiotelephone companies that might qualify as small entities or small incumbent LECs. Although it seems certain that some of these carriers are not independently owned and operated, we are unable at this time to estimate with greater precision the number of wireline carriers and service providers that would qualify as small business concerns under SBA's definition. Consequently, we estimate that there are fewer than 2,295 small entity telephone communications companies other than radiotelephone companies that may be affected by the rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

15. Local Exchange Carriers, Interexchange Carriers, Competitive Access Providers, Operator Service Providers, and Resellers. Neither the Commission nor SBA has developed a definition particular to small local exchange carriers (LECs), interexchange carriers (IXCs), competitive access providers (CAPs), operator service providers (OSPs), or resellers. The closest applicable definition for these carrier-types under SBA rules is for telephone communications companies other than radiotelephone (wireless) companies. The most reliable source of information regarding the number of these carriers nationwide of which we are aware appears to be the data that we collect annually in connection with the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). According to our most recent data, there are 1,348 incumbent LECs, 212 CAPs and competitive LECs, 171 IXCs, 24 OSPs, 388 toll resellers, and 54 local resellers. Although it seems certain that some of these carriers are not independently owned and operated, or have more than 1,500 employees, we are unable at this time to estimate with greater precision the number of these carriers that would qualify as small business concerns under SBA's definition. Consequently, we estimate that there are fewer than 1,348 incumbent LECs, 212 CAPs and competitive LECs, 171 IXCs, 24 OSPs, 388 toll resellers, and 54 local resellers that may be affected by the rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

16. Wireless (Radiotelephone) Carriers. SBA has developed a definition of small entities for radiotelephone (wireless) companies. The Census Bureau reports that there were 1,176 such companies in operation for at least one year at the end of 1992. According to SBA's definition, a small business radiotelephone company is one employing no more than 1,500 persons. The Census Bureau also reported that 1,164 of those radiotelephone companies had fewer than 1,000 employees. Thus, even if all of the remaining 12 companies had more than 1,500 employees, there would still be 1,164 radiotelephone companies that might qualify as small entities if they are independently owned and operated. Although it seems certain that some of these carriers are not independently owned and operated, we are unable at this time to estimate with greater precision the number of radiotelephone carriers and service providers that would qualify as small business concerns under SBA's definition. Consequently, we estimate that there are fewer than 1,164 small entity radiotelephone companies that may be affected by the rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

17. Cellular, PCS, SMR and Other Mobile Service Providers. In an effort to further refine our calculation of the number of radiotelephone companies that may be affected by the rules proposed herein, we consider the data that we collect annually in connection with the TRS for the subcategories Wireless Telephony (which includes Cellular, PCS, and SMR) and Other Mobile Service Providers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a definition of small entities specifically applicable to these broad subcategories, so we will utilize the closest applicable definition under SBA rules—which, for both categories, is for telephone companies other than radiotelephone (wireless) companies. To the extent that the Commission has adopted definitions for small entities providing PCS and SMR services, we discuss those definitions. According to our most recent TRS data, 808 companies reported that they are engaged in the provision of Wireless Telephony services and 23 companies reported that they are engaged in the provision of Other Mobile Services. Although it seems certain that some of these carriers are not independently owned and operated, or have more than 1,500 employees, we are unable at this time to estimate with greater precision the number of Wireless Telephony Providers and Other Mobile Service Providers, except as described, that would qualify as small business concerns under SBA's definition. Consequently, we estimate that there are fewer than 808 small entity Wireless Telephony Providers and fewer than 23 small entity Other Mobile Service Providers that might be affected by the rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

18. Broadband PCS Licensees. The broadband PCS spectrum is divided into six frequency blocks designated A through F, and the Commission has held auctions for each block. The Commission defined “small entity” for Blocks C and F as an entity that has average gross revenues of less than $40 million in the three previous calendar years. For Block F, an additional classification for “very small business” was added, and is defined as an entity that, together with its affiliates, has average gross revenues of not more than $15 million for the preceding three calendar years. These regulations defining “small entity” in the context of broadband PCS auctions have been approved by SBA. No small businesses within the SBA-approved definition bid successfully for licenses in Blocks A and B. There were 90 winning bidders that qualified as small entities in the Block C auctions. A total of 93 small and very small business bidders won approximately 40 percent of the 1,479 licenses for Blocks D, E, and F. However, licenses for Blocks C through F have not been awarded fully, therefore there are few, if any, small businesses currently providing PCS services. Based on this information, we estimate that the number of small broadband PCS licenses will include the 90 winning C Block bidders and the 93 qualifying bidders in the D, E, and F blocks, for a total of 183 small PCS providers as Start Printed Page 47944defined by SBA and the Commissioner's auction rules.

19. SMR Licensees. Pursuant to § 90.814(b)(1) of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 90.814(b)(1), the Commission has defined “small entity” in auctions for geographic area 800 MHz and 900 MHz SMR licenses as a firm that had average annual gross revenues of less than $15 million in the three previous calendar years. The definition of a “small entity” in the context of 800 MHz SMR has been approved by the SBA, and approval for the 900 MHz SMR definition has been sought. The rules may apply to SMR providers in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands that either hold geographic area licenses or have obtained extended implementation authorizations. We do not know how many firms provide 800 MHz or 900 MHz geographic area SMR service pursuant to extended implementation authorizations, nor how many of these providers have annual revenues of less than $15 million. Consequently, we estimate, for purposes of this IRFA, that all of the extended implementation authorizations may be held by small entities, some of which may be affected by the decisions and rules in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

20. The Commission recently held auctions for geographic area licenses in the 900 MHz SMR band. There were 60 winning bidders who qualified as small entities in the 900 MHz auction. Based on this information, we estimate that the number of geographic area SMR licensees that may be affected by the decisions and rules in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking includes these 60 small entities. No auctions have been held for 800 MHz geographic area SMR licenses. Therefore, no small entities currently hold these licenses. A total of 525 licenses will be awarded for the upper 200 channels in the 800 MHz geographic area SMR auction. The Commission, however, has not yet determined how many licenses will be awarded for the lower 230 channels in the 800 MHz geographic area SMR auction. There is no basis, moreover, on which to estimate how many small entities will win these licenses. Given that nearly all radiotelephone companies have fewer than 1,000 employees and that no reliable estimate of the number of prospective 800 MHz licensees can be made, we estimate, for purposes of this IRFA, that all of the licenses may be awarded to small entities, some of which may be affected by the rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

21. 220 MHz Radio Service—Phase I Licensees. The 220 MHz service has both Phase I and Phase II licenses. There are approximately 1,515 such non-nationwide licensees and four nationwide licensees currently authorized to operate in the 220 MHz band. The Commission has not developed a definition of small entities specifically applicable to such incumbent 220 MHZ Phase I licensees. To estimate the number of such licensees that are small businesses, we apply the definition under the SBA rules applicable to Radiotelephone Communications companies. According to the Bureau of the Census, only 12 radiotelephone firms out of a total of 1,178 such firms which operated during 1992 had 1,000 or more employees. Therefore, if this general ratio continues to 1999 in the context of Phase I 220 MHz licensees, we estimate that nearly all such licensees are small businesses under the SBA's definition.

22. 220 MHz Radio Service—Phase II Licensees. The Phase II 220 MHz service is a new service, and is subject to spectrum auctions. In the 220 MHz Third Report and Order, 62 FR 16004 (April 3, 1997), we adopted criteria for defining small businesses and very small businesses for purposes of determining their eligibility for special provisions such as bidding credits and installment payments. We have defined a small business as an entity that, together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues not exceeding $15 million for the preceding three years. Additionally, a very small business is defined as an entity that, together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues that are not more than $3 million for the preceding three years. An auction of Phase II licenses commenced on September 15, 1998, and closed on October 22, 1998. 908 licenses were auctioned in 3 different-sized geographic areas: three nationwide licenses, 30 Regional Economic Area Group Licenses, and 875 Economic Area (EA) Licenses. Of the 908 licenses auctioned, 693 were sold. Companies claiming small business status won: one of the Nationwide licenses, 67 percent of the Regional licenses, and 54 percent of the EA licenses. As of January 22, 1999, the Commission announced that it was prepared to grant 654 of the Phase II licenses won at auction. A reauction of the remaining, unsold licenses was completed on June 30, 1999, with 16 bidders winning 222 of the Phase II licenses. As a result, we estimate that 16 or fewer of these final winning bidders are small or very small businesses.

23. Narrowband PCS. The Commission has auctioned nationwide and regional licenses for narrowband PCS. There are 11 nationwide and 30 regional licensees for narrowband PCS. The Commission does not have sufficient information to determine whether any of these licensees are small businesses within the SBA-approved definition for radiotelephone companies. At present, there have been no auctions held for the major trading area (MTA) and basic trading area (BTA) narrowband PCS licenses. The Commission anticipates a total of 561 MTA licenses and 2,958 BTA licenses will be awarded by auction. Such auctions have not yet been scheduled, however. Given that nearly all radiotelephone companies have no more than 1,500 employees and that no reliable estimate of the number of prospective MTA and BTA narrowband licensees can be made, we assume, for purposes of this IRFA, that all of the licenses will be awarded to small entities, as that term is defined by the SBA.

24. Rural Radiotelephone Service. The Commission has not adopted a definition of small entity specific to the Rural Radiotelephone Service. A significant subset of the Rural Radiotelephone Service is the Basic Exchange Telephone Radio Systems (BETRS). We will use the SBA's definition applicable to radiotelephone companies, i.e., an entity employing no more than 1,500 persons. There are approximately 1,000 licensees in the Rural Radiotelephone Service, and we estimate that almost all of them qualify as small entities under the SBA's definition.

25. Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service. The Commission has not adopted a definition of small entity specific to the Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service. Accordingly, we will use the SBA's definition applicable to radiotelephone companies, i.e., an entity employing no more than 1,500 persons. There are approximately 100 licensees in the Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service, and we estimate that almost all of them qualify as small entities under the SBA definition.

26. Fixed Microwave Services. Microwave services include common carrier, private-operational fixed, and broadcast auxiliary radio services. At present, there are approximately 22,015 common carrier fixed licensees in the microwave services. The Commission has not yet defined a small business with respect to microwave services. For purposes of this IRFA, we will utilize the SBA's definition applicable to radiotelephone companies—i.e., an entity with no more than 1,500 persons. We estimate, for this purpose, that all of Start Printed Page 47945the Fixed Microwave licensees (excluding broadcast auxiliary licensees) would qualify as small entities under the SBA definition for radiotelephone companies.

27. Wireless Communications Services. This service can be used for fixed, mobile, radio location and digital audio broadcasting satellite uses. The Commission defined “small business” for the wireless communications services (WCS) auction as an entity with average gross revenues of $40 million for each of the three preceding years, and a “very small business” as an entity with average gross revenues of $15 million for each of the three preceding years. The Commission auctioned geographic area licenses in the WCS service. In the auction, there were seven winning bidders that qualified as very small business entities, and one that qualified as a small business entity. We conclude that the number of geographic area WCS licensees that may be affected by the rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking includes these eight entities.

28. Multipoint Distribution Systems (MDS). The Commission has defined “small entity” for the auction of MDS as an entity that, together with its affiliates, has average gross annual revenues that are not more than $40 million for the preceding three calendar years. This definition of a small entity in the context of MDS auctions has been approved by the SBA. The Commission completed its MDS auction in March 1996 for authorizations in 493 basic trading areas (BTAs). Of 67 winning bidders, 61 qualified as small entities.

29. MDS is also heavily encumbered with licensees of stations authorized prior to the auction. The SBA has developed a definition of small entities for pay television services, which includes all such companies generating $11 million or less in annual receipts. This definition includes multipoint distribution systems, and thus applies to MDS licensees and wireless cable operators which did not participate in the MDS auction. Information available to us indicates that there are 832 of these licensees and operators that do not generate revenue in excess of $11 million annually. Therefore, for purposes of this IRFA, we find there are approximately 892 small MDS providers as defined by the SBA and the Commission's auction rules, some which may be affected by the rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

(4) Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements

30. Currently, there is no deadline for the consideration of petitions for designation of carriers as eligible telecommunications carriers under section 214(e) of the Telecom Act for the purposes of receiving universal service support under section 254(e) of the Telecom Act. Under the rules proposed in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, state commissions and the Commission would each have a set time frame within which to consider such petitions before them.

(5) Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered

31. Wherever possible, the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes general rules, or alternative rules to reduce the administrative burden and cost of compliance for small telecommunications service providers. Finally, the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on measures to avoid significant economic impact on small business entities, as defined by section 601(3) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

(6) Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with the Proposed Rules.

32. None.

B. Comment Dates and Filing Procedures

33. We invite comment on the issues and questions set forth in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis contained herein. Pursuant to applicable procedures set forth in § 1.415 and § 1.419 of the Commission's rules, interested parties may file comments as follows: comments are due August 7, 2000, and reply comments are due August 28, 2000. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) or by filing paper copies. See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24,121 (1998).

34. Comments filed through the ECFS can be sent as an electronic file via the Internet to <http://www.fcc.gov/​e-file/​ecfs.html>. Generally, only one copy of an electronic submission must be filed. If multiple docket or rulemaking numbers appear in the caption of this proceeding, however, commenters must transmit one electronic copy of the comments to each docket or rulemaking number referenced in the caption. In completing the transmittal screen, commenters should include their full name, Postal Service mailing address, and the applicable docket or rulemaking number. Parties may also submit electronic comments by Internet e-mail. To receive filing instructions for e-mail comments, commenters should send an e-mail to ecfs@fcc.gov, and should include the following words in the body of the message, “get form <your e-mail address>.” A sample form and directions will be sent in reply.

35. Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and four copies of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, commenters must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number. All filings must be sent to the Commission's Secretary, Magalie Roman Salas, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554. Parties also should send three paper copies of their filing to Sheryl Todd, Accounting Policy Division, Common Carrier Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, 445 Twelfth Street, SW, Room 5-B540, Washington, DC 20554.

36. Parties who choose to file by paper should also submit their comments on diskette to Sheryl Todd, Accounting Policy Division, Common Carrier Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, 445 Twelfth Street, SW., Room 5-B540, Washington, DC 20554. Such a submission should be on a 3.5 inch diskette formatted in an IBM-compatible format using Microsoft Word 97 for Windows or a compatible software. The diskette should be accompanied by a cover letter and should be submitted in “read-only” mode. The diskette should be clearly labeled with the commenter's name, proceeding, including the lead docket number in the proceeding (CC Docket No. 96-45), type of pleading (comment or reply comment), date of submission, and the name of the electronic file on the diskette. The label should also include the following phrase (“Disk Copy Not an Original.”) Each diskette should contain only one party's pleadings, preferably in a single electronic file. In addition, commenters must send diskette copies to the Commission's copy contractor, International Transcription Service, Inc., 1231 20th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20037.

IV. Ordering Clauses

37. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1-4, 201-205, 218-220, 254, 303(r), and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, this Further Start Printed Page 47946Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is adopted.

38. It is further ordered that authority is delegated to the Chief of the Common Carrier Bureau pursuant to § 0.291 of the Commission rules, to modify, or require the filing of, any forms that are necessary to implement the decisions and rules adopted.

39. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer Information Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Order, including the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 54

End List of Subjects Start Signature

Federal Communications Commission.

William F. Caton,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 00-19612 Filed 8-2-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6712-01-U