FCC Opens Further Rulemaking on IP Transition

As telecom carriers move forward in the IP transition, the FCC wants to make sure that the core values of consumer protection, universal service, public safety, and network reliability continue.

Today, the FCC adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking designed to protect consumers in the transition from copper, circuit-switched to IP based networks.

Specifically, the notice addresses these issues:

•    Back-up power. Unlike copper networks, IP networks are not hard-wired into emergency back-up power systems. The FCC seeks comment on how many hours of back-up battery power IP-based systems should provide. The FCC also seeks to clarify what providers must tell customers when they move them from copper to fiber-based IP networks.

•    Discontinuance of copper service. Under current rules, incumbent providers that want to discontinue service must seek permission from the FCC. This proceeding asks what criteria the FCC should use when it considers a discontinuance request. In light of the Fire Island debacle, adopting strong criteria is critical to consumer protection.

•    Notification. The FCC seeks comment on customer notification requirements when a carrier retires its copper facilities. The FCC also seeks comment on whether carriers are, “in effect, retiring copper networks without giving notice simply by failing to maintain them.”

Finally, the FCC ruled that any replacement of a copper or circuit-switched service with an IP service must be the functional equivalent – providing access to the same services as over the old network. This ruling comes in light of the Fire Island fiasco, where Verizon tried to replace its storm damaged wireline service with an inferior Voice Link fixed wireless service.

Speed Matters and CWA support the FCC actions and will actively participate in the forthcoming rulemaking.

FCC Proposes Facilitating Technology Transitions By Modernizing Consumer Protection, Competition Rules (FCC news release, Nov. 21, 2014)

FCC Puts Consumers First in Tech Transitions
(Public Knowledge/Consumer Law Center news release, Nov. 21, 2014)