The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Briefing.
Open Internet Rule Small Business Exemption
The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) extended the temporary small business provider exemption from the Open Internet Enhanced Transparency Rule to December 15, 2016. The exemption applies to broadband Internet access service providers with 100,000 or fewer broadband subscribers aggregated over all of the providers’ affiliates. The Order also clarifies that providers obligated to file Form 477 that do not do so in a timely manner will be ineligible for the exemption. See our blog “How is FCC’s Extension of Transparency Rule Exemption Linked to 477?” dated 12/17/15. The full FCC is expected to decide whether to extend the temporary exemption by December of 2016.
USTelecom Forbearance Petition
At its December 17, 2015, Open Meeting, the FCC granted full or partial forbearance from most of the categories of rules covered by the petition for forbearance filed by U.S. Telecom. Among other things, the order grants forbearance from:
- Rules that governed the entry of the Bell Operating Companies into the long-distance marketplace
- 1980s “equal access” rules protecting stand-alone residential long-distance. (Equal access is “grandfathered” for remaining subscribers to stand-alone long distance, although ILECs may seek permission to eliminate equal access for these customers if they can demonstrate how the consumers will be protected.)
- Rules that required ILECs to provide access to their networks for competitive providers of “enhanced services” such as voice mail and fax – subject to a discontinuance process to ensure a smooth transition; and
- Rules, rarely used, requiring ILECs to provide a voice-grade channel (64 Kbps) on fiber networks for use by other providers.
The FCC also granted partial forbearance from the sharing of newly-deployed ILEC entrance conduits. No sharing will be required for new entrance conduits in new developments (greenfields) where competitors have equal opportunity to build. However sharing of newly deployed entrance conduit in existing developments (brownfields) is still required.
The Order does not eliminate:
- The obligation to provide voice service to consumers living in rural areas at affordable rates;
- The prohibition on using “contract tariffs” for business data services in areas not previously deemed to be competitive
- Certain safeguards for enterprise stand-alone long-distance, protecting competition in this market, which has different characteristics than the consumer market.
TMI Briefing Subscribers, watch for a Briefing when the text of the Order is released.
The PUC approved a settlement that reduces a distribution rate increase request filed by PECO Energy Company (PECO) on March 27, 2015. The settlement reduces PECO’s rate increase request by 33%. Additionally, the settlement directs PECO to hold a collaborative open to all interested parties seeking input regarding revenue decoupling. That meeting will be held on or before March 1, 2016. Click here for more details.