Jurisdictional separations is the process by which incumbent local exchange carriers (incumbent LECs) apportion regulated costs between the intrastate and interstate jurisdictions. In this document, the Commission seeks comment on extending the current freeze of part 36 category relationships and jurisdictional cost allocation factors used in jurisdictional separations. Extending the freeze would allow the Commission to provide stability for, and avoid imposing undue burdens on, carriers that must comply with the Commission's separations rules while the Commission considers issues relating to comprehensive reform of the jurisdictional separations process.
Comments are due on or before April 5, 2012. Reply comments are due on or before April 12, 2012.
You may submit comments, identified by WC Docket No. 80-286, 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://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
E-mail: email@example.com, 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 in the subject line of the message.
Mail: Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
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.
For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Daniel Ball, Attorney Advisor, at 202-418-1577, Pricing Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau.
This is a summary of the Commission's Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in CC Docket No. 80-286, FCC 12-27, released on March 15, 2012. The full text of this document is available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-A257, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
1. Jurisdictional separations is the process by which incumbent LECs apportion regulated costs between the intrastate and interstate jurisdictions. The FNPRM proposes extending the current freeze of part 36 category relationships and jurisdictional cost allocation factors used in jurisdictional separations, which freeze would otherwise expire on June 30, 2012, until June 30, 2014. Extending the freeze will allow the Commission to provide stability for, and avoid imposing undue burdens on, carriers that must comply with the Commission's separations rules while the Commission considers issues relating to comprehensive separations reform.
2. The 2001 Separations Freeze Order, 66 FR 33202, June 21, 2001, froze all part 36 category relationships and allocation factors for price cap carriers and all allocation factors for rate-of-return carriers. Rate-of-return carriers had the option to freeze their category relationships at the outset of the freeze. The freeze was originally established July 1, 2001 for a period of five years, or until the Commission completed separations reform, whichever occurred first. The 2006 Separations Freeze Extension Order, 71 FR 29843, May 24, 2006, extended the freeze for three years or until the Commission completed separations reform, whichever occurred first. The 2009 Separations Freeze Extension Order, 74 FR 23955, May 22, 2009, extended the freeze until June 30, 2010. The 2010 Separations Freeze Extension Order, 75 FR 30301, June 1, 2010, extended the freeze until June 30, 2011. The 2011 Separations Freeze Extension Order, 76 FR 30840, May 27, 2011, extended the freeze until June 30, 2012.
3. In this FNPRM the Commission seeks comment on extending the freeze for two years, until June 30, 2014. The proposed extension would allow the Commission to continue to work with the Federal-State Joint Board on Separations to achieve comprehensive separations reform. Pending comprehensive reform, the Commission tentatively concludes that the existing freeze should be extended on an interim basis to avoid the imposition of undue administrative burdens on incumbent LECs. The Commission asks commenters to consider how costly and burdensome an extension of the freeze, or a reversion to the pre-freeze part 36 rules, would be for small incumbent LECs, and whether an extension would disproportionately affect specific types of carriers or ratepayers. Incumbent LECs have not been required to utilize the programs and expertise necessary to prepare separations information since the inception of the freeze almost eleven years ago. If the Commission does not extend the separations freeze, and instead allows the earlier separations rules to return to force, incumbent LECs would be required to reinstitute their separations processes. Given the imminent expiration of the current separations freeze, it is unlikely that incumbent LECs would have sufficient time to reinstitute the separations processes necessary to comply with the earlier separations rules.
4. The extended freeze would be implemented as described in the 2001 Separations Freeze Order. Specifically, price-cap carriers would use the same relationships between categories of investment and expenses within part 32 accounts and the same jurisdictional allocation factors that have been in place since the inception of the current freeze on July 1, 2001. Rate-of-return carriers would use the same frozen jurisdictional allocation factors, and would use the same frozen category relationships if they had opted previously to freeze those as well.
Comment Filing Procedures
Pursuant to §§ 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated in the DATES section of this document. 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, May 1, 1998.
Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/ or the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. ecfs Filers should follow the instructions provided on the Web site for submitting comments.
- For ECFS filers, if multiple docket or rulemaking numbers appear in the caption of this proceeding, filers must transmit one electronic copy of the comments for each docket or rulemaking number referenced in the caption. In completing the transmittal screen, filers should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing address, and the applicable docket or rulemaking number. Parties may also submit an electronic comment by Internet email. To get filing instructions, filers should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.
- 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, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
- All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours 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 must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to email@example.com or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).
Ex Parte Requirements
This matter shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. See 47 CFR 1.1200 and 1.1206. Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentations must contain summaries of the substance of the presentations and not merely a listing of the subjects discussed. More than a one or two sentence description of the views and arguments presented generally is required. See 47 CFR 1.1206(b). Other rules pertaining to oral and written ex parte presentations in permit-but-disclose proceedings are set forth in § 1.1206(b) of the Commission's rules. 47 CFR 1.1206(b).
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities by the policies and rules proposed in this FNPRM. 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 FNPRM. The Commission will send a copy of the FNPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules
In the 1997 Separations NPRM, the Commission noted that the network infrastructure by that time had become vastly different from the network and services used to define the cost categories appearing in the Commission's part 36 jurisdictional separations rules, and that the separations process codified in part 36 was developed during a time when common carrier regulation presumed that interstate and intrastate telecommunications service must be provided through a regulated monopoly. Thus, the Commission initiated a proceeding with the goal of reviewing comprehensively the Commission's part 36 procedures to ensure that they meet the objectives of the 1996 Act. The Commission sought comment on the extent to which legislative changes, technological changes, and market changes might warrant comprehensive reform of the separations process. Because of the significant lapse of time since the imposition of the freeze, and because the industry has experienced myriad changes during that time, including reform of universal service and intercarrier compensation, we ask that commenters, in their comments on the present FNPRM, comment on the impact of a further extension of the freeze.
The purpose of proposed extension of the freeze is to allow the Commission additional time to consider changes that may need to be made to the separations process in light of changes in the law, regulation, technology, and market structure of the telecommunications industry.
The legal basis for the FNPRM is contained in sections 1, 2, 4, 201-205, 215, 218, 220, 229, 254, and 410 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154, 201-205, 215, 218, 220, 229, 254 and 410, and §§ 1.1200 through 1.1216 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.1, 1.411 through 1.429, and 1.1200 through 1.1216.
Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which Rules May Apply
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, if adopted. 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 section 3 of the Small Business Act. 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).
We have included small incumbent LECs in this RFA analysis. As noted above, a “small business” under the RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size standard established by the SBA, and is not dominant in its field of operation. Section 121.201 of the SBA regulations defines a small wireline telecommunications business as one with 1,500 or fewer employees. In addition, 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. Because our proposals concerning the part 36 separations process will affect all incumbent LECs providing interstate services, some entities employing 1500 or fewer employees may be affected by the proposals made in this FNPRM. We therefore have included small incumbent LECs in this RFA analysis, although we emphasize that this RFA action has no effect on the Commission's analyses and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts.
Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for providers of incumbent local exchange services. The closest applicable size standard under the SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under the SBA definition, a carrier is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to the FCC's Telephone Trends Report data, 1,307 incumbent LECs reported that they were engaged in the provision of local exchange services. Of these 1,307 carriers, an estimated 1,006 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 301 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most incumbent LECs are small entities that may be affected by the rules and policies adopted herein.
Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements
Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered
The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) The establishment of differing compliance and 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 use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or part thereof, for small entities.
As described above, many years have elapsed since the imposition of the freeze, thus, we ask commenters, in their comments on the present FNPRM, address the impact of a further extension of the freeze. We seek comment on the effects our proposals would have on small entities, and whether any rules that we adopt should apply differently to small entities. We direct commenters to consider the costs and burdens of an extension on small incumbent LECs and whether the extension would disproportionately affect specific types of carriers or ratepayers.
Implementation of the proposed freeze extension would ease the administrative burden of regulatory compliance for LECs, including small incumbent LECs. The freeze has eliminated the need for all incumbent LECs, including incumbent LECs with 1500 employees or fewer, to complete certain annual studies formerly required by the Commission's rules. If an extension of the freeze can be said to have any affect under the RFA, it is to reduce a regulatory compliance burden for small incumbent LECs, by abating the aforementioned separations studies and providing these carriers with greater regulatory certainty.
Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rules
Paperwork Reduction Act
The FNPRM does not propose any new or modified information collections subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any new, modified, or 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, 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).
Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 36 as follows:
PART 36—JURISDICTIONAL SEPARATIONS PROCEDURES; STANDARD PROCEDURES FOR SEPARATING TELECOMMUNICATIONS PROPERTY COSTS, REVENUES, EXPENSES, TAXES AND RESERVES FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
1. The authority citation for part 36 continues to read:
§§ 36.3, 36.123, 36.124, 36.125, 36.126, 36.141, 36.142, 36.152, 36.154, 36.155, 36.156, 36.157, 36.191, 36.212, 36.214, 36.372, 36.374, 36.375, 36.377, 36.378, 36.379, 36.380, 36.381, 36.382
2. In 47 CFR part 36 remove the words “June 30, 2012” and add, in their place, the words “June 30, 2014” wherever they appear in the following places:
a. Section 36.3(a), (b), (c), (d) introductory text, and (e);
b. Section 36.123(a)(5) and (6);
c. Section 36.124(c) and (d);
d. Section 36.125(h) and (i);
e. Section 36.126(b)(5), (c)(4), (e)(4), and (f)(2);
f. Section 36.141(c);
g. Section 36.142(c);
h. Section 36.152(d);
i. Section 36.154(g);
j. Section 36.155(b);
k. Section 36.156(c);
l. Section 36.157(b);
m. Section 36.191(d);
n. Section 36.212(c);
o. Section 36.214(a);
p. Section 36.372;
q. Section 36.374(b) and (d);
r. Section 36.375(b)(4) and (5);
s. Section 36.377(a) introductory text, (a)(1)(ix), (a)(2)(vii), (a)(3)(vii), (a)(4)(vii), (a)(5)(vii), and (a)(6)(vii);
t. Section 36.378(b)(1);
u. Section 36.379(b)(1) and (2);
v. Section 36.380(d) and (e);
w. Section 36.381(c) and (d); and
x. Section 36.382(a).
[FR Doc. 2012-7065 Filed 3-21-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P