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Federal Communications Commission
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Washington, D.C. 20554
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. CC 98-10 COMMON CARRIER ACTION April 17, 1998


(CC Docket No. 98-56)

The Commission has proposed a set of model rules by which to gauge whether new providers of local telephone service are able to access certain services and functions of incumbent local telephone companies in a manner consistent with the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The proposed model rules are designed to help pave the way to more robust competition in the local telephone market while reducing the need for regulatory oversight. By proposing to adopt model rules in the first instance, rather than legally binding federal rules, the Commission seeks to assist states in the technical area of performance measurements without hampering current state efforts to develop such measurements.

Last November, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) adopted a resolution asking the Commission to provide the states with guidance in developing performance measurements and reporting requirements for use in assessing whether the operations support systems (OSS) that incumbent local phone companies provide to competitors are comparable to the OSS that the incumbents provide themselves, as required by the 1996 Act. The resolution also recommends that the Commission give state commissions the flexibility to apply more stringent OSS performance standards as deemed necessary.

Consistent with the NARUC resolution, the Commission asked for comment on model OSS performance measurements and reporting requirements. By proposing to adopt model rules in the first instance, the Commission aims to assist those states that have not begun work in this area and allow those states that have commenced OSS proceedings to incorporate the model rules as they deem necessary.

Congress in the 1996 Act recognized that, in order to promote competition, an incumbent local phone company must make available to new entrants certain network services and facilities. Accordingly, the 1996 Act directs incumbents to provide competitors with nondiscriminatory access to the incumbents' networks by, in essence, serving as wholesale suppliers of network services and facilities. Unlike many traditional wholesale/retail relationships, however, in this case, the wholesaler is both the retailer's sole supplier and its biggest competitor.

The model rules would help carriers gauge the type of access an incumbent provides to its OSS. Access to an incumbent's OSS includes the databases that maintain customer information and the computer systems used to process orders. Incumbents use OSS to perform a variety of tasks, including signing up customers, providing repair service for customers, and billing customers. New providers of local telephone service rely on the incumbent's OSS to perform these tasks for their own customers. If a competitor lacks comparable access to the incumbent's OSS, that competitor may be disadvantaged in the marketplace by the inability to provide service of the same timeliness or quality as the incumbent's service. The proposed performance measurements would also help carriers evaluate the access an incumbent provides to its interconnection facilities and its operator services and directory assistance.

The Commission noted that performance monitoring reports should reduce the need for regulatory oversight by encouraging self-policing among carriers. The reports should serve as a basis for discussion between competitors and incumbents to resolve performance disputes. Should resort to the complaint process become necessary, the information contained in the performance monitoring reports could facilitate timely and fair resolution of the complaints.

The Commission did not propose performance standards or benchmarks for incumbents to meet, nor did it propose technical standards for incumbents' OSS interfaces. Accordingly, the NPRM proposes only that incumbents track their performance; it does not propose that incumbents satisfy a preestablished level of performance.

Action by the Commission April 16, 1998, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 98-72). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Powell, and Tristani, with Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth dissenting and Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell, and Tristani issuing separate statements.


News media contact: Rochelle Cohen at (202) 418-0253. Common Carrier Bureau contact: Radhika Karmarkar or Brent Olson at (202) 418-1580.