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Proposed Rule

Telephone Number Requirements for IP-Enabled Services Providers; Local Number Portability Porting Interval and Validation Requirements

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AGENCY:

Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY:

The Federal Communications Commission (Commission) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on whether the Commission should extend local number portability (LNP) requirements and numbering related rules, including compliance with N11 code assignments, to interconnected voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, and whether the Commission should adopt rules specifying the length of porting intervals or other details of the porting process.

DATES:

Comments are due on or before March 24, 2008, and reply comments are due on or before April 21, 2008

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments, identified by WC Docket Nos. 07-243 and 07-244, by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Federal Communications Commission's Web Site: http://www.fcc.gov/​cgb/​ecfs/​. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • E-mail: ecfs@fcc.gov, and include the following words in the body of the message, “get form.” A sample form and directions will be sent in response. Include the docket number(s) in the subject line of the message.
  • Mail: Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554.
  • Hand Delivery/Courier: 236 Massachusetts Avenue, NE., Suite 110, Washington, DC 20002.
  • People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by e-mail: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202-418-0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.

All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this rulemaking, WC Docket Nos. 07-243 and 07-244. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.fcc.gov/​cgb/​ecfs. For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Melissa Kirkel, Wireline Competition Bureau, (202) 418-1580.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This is a summary of the Commission's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) in WC Docket Nos. 07-243 and 07-244, FCC 07-188, adopted October 31, 2007, and released November 8, 2007. The complete text of this document is available for inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. This document may also be purchased from the Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone (800) 378-3160 or (202) 863-2893, facsimile (202) 863-2898, or via e-mail at http://www.bcpiweb.com. It is also available on the Commission's Web site at http://www.fcc.gov.

Public Participation

Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments regarding the Notice on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. All filings related to this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking should refer to WC Docket No. 07-243 or WC Docket No. 07-244. All filings made in response to the Notice section on interconnected VoIP provider numbering obligations should be filed in WC Docket No. 07-243. All filings made in response to the Notice sections on port request validation and porting intervals should be filed in WC Docket No. 07-244. Comments may be filed using: (1) The Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), (2) the Federal Government's eRulemaking Portal, or (3) by filing paper copies. See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998). Start Printed Page 9508

  • Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://www.fcc.gov/​cgb/​ecfs/​ or the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Filers should follow the instructions provided on the Web site for submitting comments.
  • ECFS filers must transmit one electronic copy of the comments for WC Docket Nos. 07-243 and 07-244. In completing the transmittal screen, filers should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing address, and the applicable docket number. Parties may also submit an electronic comment by Internet e-mail. To get filing instructions, filers should send an e-mail to ecfs@fcc.gov, and include the following words in the body of the message, “get form.” A sample form and directions will be sent in response.
  • Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and four copies of each filing. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although we continue to experience delays in receiving U.S. Postal Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Marlene H. Dortch, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554.
  • The Commission's contractor will receive hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary at 236 Massachusetts Avenue, NE., Suite 110, Washington, DC 20002. The filing hours at this location are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building.
  • Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
  • U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail should be addressed to 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554.

Parties should send a copy of their filings to the Competition Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, Room 5-C140, 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554, or by e-mail to cpdcopies@fcc.gov. Parties shall also serve one copy with the Commission's copy contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc. (BCPI), Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, (202) 488-5300, or via e-mail to fcc@bcpiweb.com.

Documents in WC Docket Nos. 07-243, and 07-244 will be available for public inspection and copying during business hours at the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. The documents may also be purchased from BCPI, telephone (202) 488-5300, facsimile (202) 488-5563, TTY (202) 488-5562, e-mail fcc@bcpiweb.com.

Synopsis of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

1. Through this Notice, the Commission considers whether there are additional number administration requirements that the Commission should adopt to benefit customers of telecommunications and interconnected VoIP services. First, the Commission seeks comment on whether it should act to extend other numbering-related obligations to interconnected VoIP providers. Second, the Commission seeks comment on whether it should adopt specific rules regarding the LNP validation process and porting interval lengths.

A. Interconnected VoIP Provider Numbering Obligations

2. The Commission seeks comment on issues associated with the implementation of LNP for users of interconnected VoIP services. The Commission also seeks comment on whether any of its numbering requirements, in addition to LNP, should be extended to interconnected VoIP providers. For example, the Commission seeks comment on whether it should require interconnected VoIP providers to comply with N11 code assignments. The Commission already requires interconnected VoIP providers to supply 911 emergency calling capabilities to their customers whose service connects with the PSTN and to offer 711 abbreviated dialing for access to telephone relay services. Commenters should provide information on the technical feasibility of a requirement to comply with the other N11 code assignments. The Commission also seeks comment on the benefits and burdens, including the burdens on small entities, of requiring interconnected VoIP providers to comply with N11 code assignments or other numbering requirements.

B. LNP Process Requirements

3. As the Commission has found, it is critical that customers be able to port their telephone numbers in an efficient manner in order for LNP to fulfill its promise of giving “customers flexibility in the quality, price, and variety of telecommunications services.” Although customers have had the option to port numbers between their telephone service providers for a number of years, the length of time for ports to occur and other difficulties with the porting process may hinder such options. Therefore, the Commission seeks comment on whether it should take steps to mandate or modify certain elements of the porting process to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of LNP for U.S. telephone consumers.

4. The Commission finds this to be a significant concern both because of the statutory requirement to ensure “the ability of users of telecommunications services to retain, at the same location, existing telecommunications numbers without impairment of quality, reliability, or convenience when switching from one telecommunications carrier to another,” as well as the important role intermodal providers play in telecommunications competition. Indeed, incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) have sought to rely on the presence of telephone competition from wireless providers and cable operators when seeking relief from regulatory obligations. To help enable such intermodal competition, and the deregulation that can result from such competition, it thus is important for the Commission to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of LNP, which “eliminates one major disincentive to switch carriers” and thus facilitates “the successful entrance of new service providers.” However, the Commission does not limit its inquiry specifically to intermodal LNP but seeks comment on the need for Commission requirements on LNP processes in other contexts as well.

5. The Commission's conclusion that carriers can require no more than four fields for validation of a simple port, and what information those fields should contain, addresses the consideration of the appropriate amount and type of information necessary to effectuate a port. The Commission seeks comments on how the information required for validation fields adopted by the Commission affects the validation process, including any other ways that those validation fields could minimize the error rates or further reduce the amount of information that a porting-in entity must request from the porting-out entity prior to submitting the simple port request. Further, the Commission seeks comment on any other considerations that it should evaluate in the simple port validation process.

6. The evidence in the record also shows that delays in the porting process can arise when the porting-out carrier Start Printed Page 9509fails to identify all errors in a Local Service Request (LSR) at once. If a provider identifies errors one at a time, this necessitates multiple resubmissions of the LSR, and delays the porting process. The Commission agrees with commenters such as AT&T that it may not be possible for providers to identify all errors at once, although the porting process will proceed most efficiently if providers identify as many errors as possible at a given time. The Commission seeks comment on whether it should adopt a requirement that carriers identify all errors possible in a given LSR and describe the basis for rejection when rejecting a port request.

7. Finally, the Commission seeks comment on the benefits and burdens, including the burdens on small entities, of the specific requirements on the validation process proposed above, and any other such requirements.

8. Porting Intervals. The Commission tentatively concludes that it should adopt rules reducing the porting interval for simple port requests. The Commission seeks comment on that tentative conclusion, and on it should establish time limits on the porting process for all types of simple port requests (i.e., wireline-to-wireline ports, wireless-to-wireless ports, and intermodal ports) or just certain types of ports. The wireless industry has established a voluntary standard of two and one-half hours for wireless-to-wireless ports. The Commission seeks comment on whether it should adopt a rule codifying this standard.

9. The Commission also tentatively concludes that it should adopt rules reducing the porting interval for wireline-to-wireline and intermodal simple port requests, specifically, to a 48-hour porting interval. As noted above, the wireless industry has been successful in streamlining the validation process for wireless-to-wireless porting, and the Commission encourages the industry to evaluate whether similar streamlining measures would work for intermodal or wireline-to-wireline porting. The Commission notes, moreover, that pending resolution of this rulemaking proceeding, providers remain free to seek enforcement action against a porting-out carrier that requests validation information that appears to obstruct or delay the porting process.

10. For wireline-to-wireline simple ports, the Commission adopted the NANC's 1997 recommendation of a four business day porting interval. This four-day interval also applies to wireline-to-wireless intermodal simple ports. It has been over ten years since the Commission reassessed the porting interval for wireline-to-wireline ports, and commenters suggest that advances in technology allow for the four-day porting interval to be reduced. For intermodal porting intervals, the Commission has twice sought comment on whether the porting interval could be reduced. Most recently, the Commission specifically sought comment on detailed NANC proposals for shortening the intermodal porting interval, which included specific timelines for the porting process.

11. While some commenters advocate retaining the current porting intervals, other providers assert that shorter intervals are possible. For example, Comcast asserts that a “next day” standard for wireline ports that, in most cases, would not exceed 36 hours is more appropriate in light of technological advancements and recent competitive developments. Other commenters recommend refreshing the record in the Intermodal Number Portability FNPRM (68 FR 68831, Dec. 10, 2003) and considering the NANC's proposal that would effectively reduce the porting interval to 53 hours. Commenters seeking shorter intervals point out the benefits to consumers and competition arising when ports can occur more quickly.

12. Given that the industry has been unable to reach consensus on an updated industry standard for wireline-to-wireline and intermodal simple ports, the Commission tentatively concludes that it should adopt rules regarding a reduced porting interval and allow the industry to work through the actual implications of such a timeline. In particular, the Commission tentatively concludes that it should adopt a 48-hour porting interval, as it falls between the range of proposed shorter intervals. In setting this interval, the Commission hopes to encourage industry discussion and consensus. The Commission seeks comment on its tentative conclusions, and whether there are any technical impediments or advances that affect the overall length of the porting interval such that it should adopt different porting intervals for particular types of simple ports (e.g., wireline-to-wireline, wireline-to-wireless, wireless-to-wireline). Further, the Commission seeks comment on how it should define the various porting interval timelines in terms of operating hours.

13. Finally, the Commission seeks comment on the benefits and burdens, including the burdens on small entities, of adopting rules regarding porting intervals for all types of simple port requests.

14. The Commission encourages interested parties to take into account the fact that as technologies and business practices evolve, it expects that the porting interval would decrease in order to provide consumers as quick and efficient a porting process as possible. The Commission looks forward to a complete record on the appropriate porting interval consistent with the shortest reasonable time period.

15. Other LNP Process Issues. Commenters identify a number of other concerns regarding the LNP process that they assert are hindering the ability of consumers to take advantage of LNP. For example, Charter comments that certain carriers' processes result in cancellation of a subscriber dial tone for port requests that are delayed for operational reasons. Charter also argues that carriers should be: (1) Required to provide the basis for rejecting a port request at the time of that rejection; (2) required to provide affirmative notice of all changes to their porting requirements and process; and (3) prohibited from making ad hoc changes to their procedures. Charter also argues that the Commission should declare that interconnection agreements are not a necessary precondition to effectuating wireline-to-wireline ports. The Commission seeks comment on these and any other concerns regarding the LNP process more generally, including the port validation process and porting intervals for non-simple ports.

C. New Dockets

16. In this Notice, the Commission opens two new dockets—WC Docket No. 07-243 and WC Docket No. 07-244. All filings made in response to the Notice section on interconnected VoIP provider numbering obligations should be filed in WC Docket No. 07-243. All filings made in response to the Notice sections on port request validation and porting intervals should be filed in WC Docket No. 07-244.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

1. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared the present Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities that might result from this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice). 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 Notice provided above. The Commission will send a copy of the Notice, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. In Start Printed Page 9510addition, the Notice and the IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.

A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

2. In this Notice, the Commission considers whether there are additional numbering-related requirements the Commission should adopt to benefit customers of telecommunications and interconnected VoIP services. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on whether it should extend other LNP requirements and numbering-related rules, including compliance with N11 code assignments, to interconnected VoIP providers. The Commission also seeks comment on whether it should adopt rules specifying the length of the porting intervals or other changes to the LNP validation process, or other details of the porting process. Among other things, the Commission tentatively concludes that it should adopt rules reducing the porting interval for wireline-to-wireline and intermodal simple port requests, specifically, to a 48-hour porting interval. The Commission seeks comment on its tentative conclusions and issues related to its tentative conclusions. For each of these issues, the Commission also seeks comment on the burdens, including those placed on small carriers, associated with corresponding Commission rules related to each issue.

B. Legal Basis

3. The legal basis for any action that may be taken pursuant to this Notice is contained in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 251 and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i) through (j), 251, 303(r).

C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rules May Apply

4. 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 which: (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).

5. Small Businesses. Nationwide, there are a total of approximately 22.4 million small businesses, according to SBA data.

6. Small Organizations. Nationwide, there are approximately 1.6 million small organizations.

7. Small Governmental Jurisdictions. The term “small governmental jurisdiction” is defined generally as “governments of cities, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.” Census Bureau data for 2002 indicate that there were 87,525 local governmental jurisdictions in the United States. The Commission estimates that, of this total, 84,377 entities were “small governmental jurisdictions.” Thus, the Commission estimates that most governmental jurisdictions are small.

1. Telecommunications Service Entities

a. Wireline Carriers and Service Providers

8. The Commission has included small incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) in this present RFA analysis. As noted above, 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. The Commission has therefore included small incumbent LECs in this RFA analysis, although the Commission emphasizes that this RFA action has no effect on Commission analyses and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts.

9. Incumbent LECs. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for incumbent local exchange services. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 1,303 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of incumbent local exchange services. Of these 1,303 carriers, an estimated 1,020 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 283 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of incumbent local exchange service are small businesses that may be affected by the Commission's action.

10. Competitive LECs, Competitive Access Providers (CAPs), “Shared-Tenant Service Providers,” and “Other Local Service Providers.” Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for these service providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 859 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of either competitive access provider services or competitive LEC services. Of these 859 carriers, an estimated 741 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 118 have more than 1,500 employees. In addition, 16 carriers have reported that they are “Shared-Tenant Service Providers,” and all 16 are estimated to have 1,500 or fewer employees. In addition, 44 carriers have reported that they are “Other Local Service Providers.” Of the 44, an estimated 43 have 1,500 or fewer employees and one has more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of competitive local exchange service, competitive access providers, “Shared-Tenant Service Providers,” and “Other Local Service Providers” are small entities.

11. Local Resellers. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for the category of Telecommunications Resellers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 184 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of local resale services. Of these, an estimated 181 have 1,500 or fewer employees and three have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of local resellers are small entities that may be affected by the Commission's action.

12. Toll Resellers. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for the category of Telecommunications Resellers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 881 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of toll resale services. Of these, an estimated 853 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 28 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of toll resellers are small entities that may be affected by the Commission's action.

13. Payphone Service Providers (PSPs). Neither the Commission nor the Start Printed Page 9511SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for payphone services providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 657 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of payphone services. Of these, an estimated 653 have 1,500 or fewer employees and four have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of payphone service providers are small entities that may be affected by the Commission's action.

14. Interexchange Carriers (IXCs). Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for providers of interexchange services. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 330 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of interexchange service. Of these, an estimated 309 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 21 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of IXCs are small entities that may be affected by the Commission's action.

15. Operator Service Providers (OSPs). Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for operator service providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 23 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of operator services. Of these, an estimated 22 have 1,500 or fewer employees and one has more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of OSPs are small entities that may be affected by the Commission's action.

16. Prepaid Calling Card Providers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for prepaid calling card providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Telecommunications Resellers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 104 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of prepaid calling cards. Of these, 102 are estimated to have 1,500 or fewer employees and two have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that all or the majority of prepaid calling card providers are small entities that may be affected by the Commission's action.

17. 800 and 800-Like Service Subscribers. These toll-free services fall within the broad economic census category of Telecommunications Resellers. This category “comprises establishments engaged in purchasing access and network capacity from owners and operators of telecommunications networks and reselling wired and wireless telecommunications services (except satellite) to businesses and households. Establishments in this industry resell telecommunications; they do not operate transmission facilities and infrastructure.” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees. Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there were 1,646 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 1,642 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and four firms had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus, the majority of these firms can be considered small. Additionally, it may be helpful to know the total numbers of telephone numbers assigned in these services. Commission data show that, as of June 2006, the total number of 800 numbers assigned was 7,647,941, the total number of 888 numbers assigned was 5,318,667, the total number of 877 numbers assigned was 4,431,162, and the total number of 866 numbers assigned was 6,008,976.

b. International Service Providers

18. The Commission has not developed a small business size standard specifically for providers of international service. The appropriate size standards under SBA rules are for the two broad census categories of “Satellite Telecommunications” and “Other Telecommunications.” Under both categories, such a business is small if it has $13.5 million or less in average annual receipts.

19. The first category of Satellite Telecommunications “comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing point-to-point telecommunications services to other establishments in the telecommunications and broadcasting industries by forwarding and receiving communications signals via a system of satellites or reselling satellite telecommunications.” For this category, Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there were a total of 371 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 307 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million, and 26 firms had receipts of $10 million to $24,999,999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of Satellite Telecommunications firms are small entities that might be affected by the Commission's action.

20. The second category of Other Telecommunications “comprises establishments primarily engaged in (1) providing specialized telecommunications applications, such as satellite tracking, communications telemetry, and radar station operations; or (2) providing satellite terminal stations and associated facilities operationally connected with one or more terrestrial communications systems and capable of transmitting telecommunications to or receiving telecommunications from satellite systems.” For this category, Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there were a total of 332 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 259 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million and 15 firms had annual receipts of $10 million to $24,999,999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of Other Telecommunications firms are small entities that might be affected by the Commission's action.

c. Wireless Telecommunications Service Providers

21. Below, for those services subject to auctions, the Commission notes that, as a general matter, the number of winning bidders that qualify as small businesses at the close of an auction does not necessarily represent the number of small businesses currently in service. Also, the Commission does not generally track subsequent business size unless, in the context of assignments or transfers, unjust enrichment issues are implicated.

22. Wireless Service Providers. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for wireless firms within the two broad economic census categories of “Paging” and “Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications.” Under both SBA categories, a wireless business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. For the census category of Paging, Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there were 807 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 804 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and three firms had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus, under this category and associated small business size standard, the majority of Start Printed Page 9512firms can be considered small. For the census category of Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications, Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there were 1,397 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 1,378 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and 19 firms had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus, under this second category and size standard, the majority of firms can, again, be considered small.

23. Cellular Licensees. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for wireless firms within the broad economic census category “Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications.” Under this SBA category, a wireless business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. For the census category of Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications, Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there were 1,397 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 1,378 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and 19 firms had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus, under this category and size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small. Also, according to Commission data, 437 carriers reported that they were engaged in the provision of cellular service, Personal Communications Service (PCS), or Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) Telephony services, which are placed together in the data. The Commission has estimated that 260 of these are small under the SBA small business size standard.

24. Paging. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for the broad economic census category of “Paging.” Under this category, the SBA deems a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there were 807 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 804 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and three firms had employment of 1,000 employees or more. In addition, according to Commission data, 365 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of “Paging and Messaging Service.” Of this total, the Commission estimates that 360 have 1,500 or fewer employees, and five have more than 1,500 employees. Thus, in this category the majority of firms can be considered small.

25. The Commission also notes that, in the Paging Second Report and Order (62 FR 11616, Mar. 12, 1997), the Commission adopted a size standard for “small businesses” for purposes of determining their eligibility for special provisions such as bidding credits and installment payments. In this context, a small business is an entity that, together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues not exceeding $15 million for the preceding three years. The SBA has approved this definition. An auction of Metropolitan Economic Area (MEA) licenses commenced on February 24, 2000, and closed on March 2, 2000. Of the 2,499 licenses auctioned, 985 were sold. Fifty-seven companies claiming small business status won 440 licenses. An auction of MEA and Economic Area (EA) licenses commenced on October 30, 2001, and closed on December 5, 2001. Of the 15,514 licenses auctioned, 5,323 were sold. One hundred thirty-two companies claiming small business status purchased 3,724 licenses. A third auction, consisting of 8,874 licenses in each of 175 EAs and 1,328 licenses in all but three of the 51 MEAs commenced on May 13, 2003, and closed on May 28, 2003. Seventy-seven bidders claiming small or very small business status won 2,093 licenses. The Commission also notes that, currently, there are approximately 74,000 Common Carrier Paging licenses.

26. Wireless Telephony. Wireless telephony includes cellular, personal communications services (PCS), and specialized mobile radio (SMR) telephony carriers. As noted earlier, the SBA has developed a small business size standard for “Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications” services. Under that SBA small business size standard, a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 432 carriers reported that they were engaged in the provision of wireless telephony. The Commission has estimated that 221 of these are small under the SBA small business size standard.

27. Broadband Personal Communications Service. The broadband Personal Communications Service (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 $40 million or less 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 standards defining “small entity” in the context of broadband PCS auctions have been approved by the SBA. No small businesses within the SBA-approved small business size standards 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. On March 23, 1999, the Commission re-auctioned 347 C, D, E, and F Block licenses. There were 48 small business winning bidders. On January 26, 2001, the Commission completed the auction of 422 C and F Broadband PCS licenses in Auction No. 35. Of the 35 winning bidders in this auction, 29 qualified as “small” or “very small” businesses. Subsequent events, concerning Auction 35, including judicial and agency determinations, resulted in a total of 163 C and F Block licenses being available for grant.

28. Narrowband Personal Communications Services. The Commission held an auction for Narrowband PCS licenses that commenced on July 25, 1994, and closed on July 29, 1994. A second auction commenced on October 26, 1994 and closed on November 8, 1994. For purposes of the first two Narrowband PCS auctions, “small businesses” were entities with average gross revenues for the prior three calendar years of $40 million or less. Through these auctions, the Commission awarded a total of 41 licenses, 11 of which were obtained by four small businesses. To ensure meaningful participation by small business entities in future auctions, the Commission adopted a two-tiered small business size standard in the Narrowband PCS Second Report and Order (65 FR 35875, Jun. 6, 2000). A “small business” is an entity that, together with affiliates and controlling interests, has average gross revenues for the three preceding years of not more than $40 million. A “very small business” is an entity that, together with affiliates and controlling interests, has average gross revenues for the three preceding years of not more than $15 million. The SBA has approved these small business size standards. A third auction commenced on October 3, 2001 and closed on October 16, 2001. Here, five bidders won 317 (Metropolitan Trading Areas and nationwide) licenses. Three of these claimed status as a small or very small entity and won 311 licenses.

29. Rural Radiotelephone Service. The Commission has not adopted a size standard for small businesses specific to the Rural Radiotelephone Service. A significant subset of the Rural Start Printed Page 9513Radiotelephone Service is the Basic Exchange Telephone Radio System (BETRS). The Commission uses the SBA's small business size standard applicable to “Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications,” i.e., an entity employing no more than 1,500 persons. There are approximately 1,000 licensees in the Rural Radiotelephone Service, and the Commission estimates that there are 1,000 or fewer small entity licensees in the Rural Radiotelephone Service that may be affected by the rules and policies adopted herein.

30. Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service. The Commission has not adopted a small business size standard specific to the Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service. The Commission will use SBA's small business size standard applicable to “Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications,” i.e., an entity employing no more than 1,500 persons. There are approximately 100 licensees in the Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service, and the Commission estimates that almost all of them qualify as small under the SBA small business size standard.

31. Offshore Radiotelephone Service. This service operates on several UHF television broadcast channels that are not used for television broadcasting in the coastal areas of states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. There are presently approximately 55 licensees in this service. The Commission is unable to estimate at this time the number of licensees that would qualify as small under the SBA's small business size standard for “Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications” services. Under that SBA small business size standard, a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees.

2. Cable and OVS Operators

32. Cable Television Distribution Services. Since 2007, these services have been defined within the broad economic census category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers; that category is defined as follows: “This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks. Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of technologies.” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: All such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees. To gauge small business prevalence for these cable services the Commission must, however, use current census data that are based on the previous category of Cable and Other Program Distribution and its associated size standard; that size standard was: All such firms having $13.5 million or less in annual receipts. According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there were a total of 1,191 firms in this previous category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 1,087 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million, and 43 firms had receipts of $10 million or more but less than $25 million. Thus, the majority of these firms can be considered small.

33. Cable Companies and Systems. The Commission has also developed its own small business size standards, for the purpose of cable rate regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a “small cable company” is one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers, nationwide. Industry data indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but eleven are small under this size standard. In addition, under the Commission's rules, a “small system” is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer subscribers. Industry data indicate that, of 7,208 systems nationwide, 6,139 systems have under 10,000 subscribers, and an additional 379 systems have 10,000-19,999 subscribers. Thus, under this second size standard, most cable systems are small.

34. Cable System Operators. The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, also contains a size standard for small cable system operators, which is “a cable operator that, directly or through an affiliate, serves in the aggregate fewer than 1 percent of all subscribers in the United States and is not affiliated with any entity or entities whose gross annual revenues in the aggregate exceed $250,000,000.” The Commission has determined that an operator serving fewer than 677,000 subscribers shall be deemed a small operator, if its annual revenues, when combined with the total annual revenues of all its affiliates, do not exceed $250 million in the aggregate. Industry data indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but ten are small under this size standard. The Commission notes that it neither requests nor collects information on whether cable system operators are affiliated with entities whose gross annual revenues exceed $250 million, and therefore it is unable to estimate more accurately the number of cable system operators that would qualify as small under this size standard.

35. Open Video Systems (OVS). In 1996, Congress established the open video system (OVS) framework, one of four statutorily recognized options for the provision of video programming services by local exchange carriers (LECs). The OVS framework provides opportunities for the distribution of video programming other than through cable systems. Because OVS operators provide subscription services, OVS falls within the SBA small business size standard of Cable and Other Program Distribution Services, which consists of such entities having $13.5 million or less in annual receipts. The Commission has certified 25 OVS operators, with some now providing service. Broadband service providers (BSPs) are currently the only significant holders of OVS certifications or local OVS franchises. As of June, 2005, BSPs served approximately 1.4 million subscribers, representing 1.5 percent of all MVPD households. Affiliates of Residential Communications Network, Inc. (RCN), which serves about 371,000 subscribers as of June, 2005, is currently the largest BSP and 14th largest MVPD. RCN received approval to operate OVS systems in New York City, Boston, Washington, DC and other areas. The Commission does not have financial information regarding the entities authorized to provide OVS, some of which may not yet be operational. The Commission thus believes that at least some of the OVS operators may qualify as small entities.

3. Internet Service Providers

36. Internet Service Providers. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for Internet Service Providers (ISPs). ISPs “provide clients access to the Internet and generally provide related services such as web hosting, web page designing, and hardware or software consulting related to Internet connectivity.” Under the SBA size standard, such a business is small if it has average annual receipts of $23 million or less. According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there were 2,529 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of these, 2,437 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million, and an additional 47 firms had receipts of between $10 million and $24,999,999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of these firms are small entities that may be affected by the Commission's action.

37. All Other Information Services. “This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing other information services (except new syndicates and libraries and archives).” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category; that size standard is $6.5 million or less in average annual receipts. According to Census Bureau Start Printed Page 9514data for 2002, there were 155 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of these, 138 had annual receipts of under $5 million, and an additional four firms had receipts of between $5 million and $9,999,999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of these firms are small entities that may be affected by the Commission's action.

4. Equipment Manufacturers

38. SBA small business size standards are given in terms of “firms.” Census Bureau data concerning computer manufacturers, on the other hand, are given in terms of “establishments.” The Commission notes that the number of “establishments” is a less helpful indicator of small business prevalence in this context than would be the number of “firms” or “companies,” because the latter take into account the concept of common ownership or control. Any single physical location for an entity is an establishment, even though that location may be owned by a different establishment. Thus, the census numbers provided below may reflect inflated numbers of businesses in the given category, including the numbers of small businesses.

39. Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications Equipment Manufacturing. The Census Bureau defines this category as follows: “This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing radio and television broadcast and wireless communications equipment. Examples of products made by these establishments are: Transmitting and receiving antennas, cable television equipment, GPS equipment, pagers, cellular phones, mobile communications equipment, and radio and television studio and broadcasting equipment.” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications Equipment Manufacturing, which is: All such firms having 750 or fewer employees. According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there were a total of 1,041 establishments in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 1,010 had employment of under 500, and an additional 13 had employment of 500 to 999. Thus, under this size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.

40. Telephone Apparatus Manufacturing. The Census Bureau defines this category as follows: “This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing wire telephone and data communications equipment. These products may be standalone or board-level components of a larger system. Examples of products made by these establishments are central office switching equipment, cordless telephones (except cellular), PBX equipment, telephones, telephone answering machines, LAN modems, multi-user modems, and other data communications equipment, such as bridges, routers, and gateways.” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for Telephone Apparatus Manufacturing, which is: All such firms having 1,000 or fewer employees. According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there were a total of 518 establishments in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 511 had employment of under 1,000, and an additional 7 had employment of 1,000 to 2,499. Thus, under this size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.

41. Semiconductor and Related Device Manufacturing. Examples of manufactured devices in this category include “integrated circuits, memory chips, microprocessors, diodes, transistors, solar cells and other optoelectronic devices.” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category of manufacturing; that size standard is 500 or fewer employees. According to Census Bureau data, there were 1,032 establishments in this category that operated with payroll during 2002. Of these, 950 had employment of under 500, and 42 establishments had employment of 500 to 999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of these establishments are small entities.

42. Computer Storage Device Manufacturing. These establishments manufacture “computer storage devices that allow the storage and retrieval of data from a phase change, magnetic, optical, or magnetic/optical media.” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category of manufacturing; that size standard is 1,000 or fewer employees. According to Census Bureau data, there were 170 establishments in this category that operated with payroll during 2002. Of these, 164 had employment of under 500, and five establishments had employment of 500 to 999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of these establishments are small entities.

D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping and Other Compliance Requirements

43. Should the Commission decide to adopt any further numbering requirements to benefit customers of telecommunications and interconnected VoIP service, the associated rules potentially could modify the reporting and recordkeeping requirements of certain telecommunications providers and interconnected VoIP service providers. For example, the Commission seeks comment on whether it should require interconnected VoIP providers to comply with N11 code assignments. Additionally, the Commission seeks comment on whether it should adopt a requirement that carriers identify all errors possible in a given LSR and describe the basis for rejection when rejecting a port request. The Commission also tentatively concludes that it should adopt rules reducing the porting interval for wireline-to-wireline and intermodal simple port requests, specifically to a 48-hour porting interval, and seeks comment on whether the Commission should establish time limits on the porting process for all types of simple port requests or just certain types of ports. Further, the Commission seeks comment on whether there are any technical impediments or advances that affect the overall length of the porting interval such that it should adopt different porting intervals for particular types of simple ports. These proposals may impose additional reporting and recordkeeping requirements on entities. Also, the Commission seeks comment on whether any of these proposals place burdens on small entities, and whether alternatives might lessen such burdens while still achieving the goals of this proceeding. Entities, especially small businesses, are encouraged to quantify the costs and benefits or any reporting requirement that may be established in this proceeding.

E. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered

44. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include (among others) the following four alternatives: (1) The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the Start Printed Page 9515use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.

45. The Commission's primary objective is to ensure that that consumers benefit from LNP. The Commission seeks comment on the burdens, including those placed on small carriers, associated with related Commission rules and whether the Commission should adopt different requirements for small businesses. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on the benefits and burdens, including the burdens on small entities, of requiring interconnected VoIP providers to comply with N11 code assignments and other numbering requirements. The Commission also seeks comment on the benefits and burdens, including the burdens on small entities, of the specific requirements on the validation process proposed in the Notice and any other such requirements. Further, the Commission seeks comment on the benefits and burdens, including the burdens on small entities, of adopting rules regarding porting intervals for all types of simple port requests.

F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rules

46. None.

Initial Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis

47. This document does not contain proposed information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any proposed information collection burden “for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees,” pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

Ordering Clauses

It is ordered that pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 251, and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i)-(j), 251, 303(r), the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WC Docket Nos. 07-243 and 07-244 is adopted.

It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Report and Order, Declaratory Ruling, Order on Remand, and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the two Final Regulatory Flexibility Analyses and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

Start Signature

Federal Communications Commission.

Marlene H. Dortch,

Secretary.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E8-3129 Filed 2-20-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6712-01-P