FCC requires 90 days advance notice before copper retirement

The FCC’s Copper Retirement Advance Notice rules take effect today, at long last.  While the FCC adopted the rules in an Order last August, the effective date was delayed awaiting Office of Management and Budget review and publication in the Federal Register -- which happened today.


The rules require companies to give customers advance notice before retiring copper lines: 90 days for residential customers and 180 days for wholesale providers. According to the Federal Register notice, the rules are designed “to provide interconnecting entities adequate time to prepare their networks for the planned copper retirements and to ensure that consumers are able to make informed choices.”


These rules are important – and timely. This week the Philadelphia Inquirer reported widespread consumer confusion and anger with Verizon’s practice of ending legacy copper service with only minimal warning. The Inquirer story featured retirees Neil and Gilda Altman, who objected to Verizon’s 30 day notice to switch to fiber or lose service altogether.  After six weeks of calls with Verizon, the Altmans filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission.


Verizon has been forcing customers throughout its northeast footprint to move from copper to fiber with only minimal notice. In February, New Jersey’s Division of the Rate Counsel filed comments at the FCC opposing  Verizon’s plans to shut off copper service in two New Jersey communities.

The Rate Counsel’s comments included a letter Verizon sent customers that read in part:


…services will be suspended on or after 45 days from the date of this letter, if you do not allow Verizon reasonable access to your premises … to move your service to our fiber-optic network… Once your service is suspended, you will only be able to call 9-1-1 and our customer service number … 14 days after being suspended, Verizon service at your address will be disconnected.


The Rate Counsel emphasized that people need more time to understand the transition and make an informed decision.  


With the 90 day advance notice rules now in effect, consumers who do not receive adequate notice can file complaints with the FCC here. Speed Matters would also like to hear from you on our Facebook page here.

Technology Transition Order (FCC, Aug. 6, 2015)

 

Federal Register, Vol. 81, No. 57, Rules and Regulations (US Government Publishing Office, Mar. 24, 2016)

 

Verizon quietly cutting copper phone lines (Philadelphia Inquirer, Mar. 20, 2016)

 

NJ Rate Counsel Opposition Comments (FCC, Feb. 24, 2016)