Public interest, consumer advocates appeal FCC’s copper retirement order

Four public interest and consumer advocates filed an appeal against the FCC’s November 2017 decision to eviscerate rules that protect consumers when incumbent carriers retire copper landlines. In that order, the FCC’s Republican majority eliminated advance notice requirements to retail customers for copper-to-fiber upgrades, deleted protections against de facto copper retirement due to lack of maintenance, and downgraded the definition of service to a community.

The organizations filing the appeal are Public Knowledge, the Greenlining Institute, the Utility Reform Network, and the National Association of State Utility Advocates. “In the relevant paragraphs of the Report and Order, the Commission eliminated the de facto retirement rule, which required incumbent local exchange carriers to provide adequate notice to affected customers when they failed to maintain copper, subloops, or the feeder portion of such loops or subloops that is the functional equivalent of removal or disabling,” the organizations’ petition read. “The petitioners seek review of these Commission decisions on the ground that they are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or contrary to law pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 706.”

The Communications Workers of America opposed the FCC’s copper retirement order, calling it a “giant step backward.” “We’ve already seen the dangers that can happen when carriers don’t consider how change in service impacts a community – just ask residents of Fire Island, NY,” CWA said in a press release following the FCC vote in November. “That's where Verizon replaced damaged landlines with wireless service that didn’t work with health monitors, alarms, fax machines, and equipment for the hearing impaired. The FCC’s radical plan puts millions of Americans, particularly in rural areas, at risk for the same disruption of critical communications services.”

 

Links:

Public interest and consumer advocates Petition for Review (US Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit, Dec. 8, 2017)

FCC’s copper retirement plans face repeal from nongovernmental organizations (FierceTelecom, Dec. 11, 2017)

CWA: FCC Takes Three Giant Steps Backward (CWA, Nov. 16, 2017)