[ Text Version | WordPerfect Version | Kennard Statement | Powell Statement]

fcclogo NEWS

Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
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).


(WT Docket No. 98-100, GN Docket No. 94-33)

Today, the Commission granted in part and denied in part a Petition for Forbearance (Petition) filed by the Broadband Personal Communications Services Alliance of the Personal Communications Industry Association (PCIA). The Commission granted in part PCIA's requests to forbear from requiring commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers to file tariffs for their international services and from applying Section 226 of the Communications Act (the Act). The Commission also initiated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) seeking comment on further forbearance of Section 226 and other regulations or provisions of the Act to wireless telecommunications carriers.

The Commission shall forbear from applying any regulation or provision of the Act to a telecommunications carriers or class of carriers if the Commission determines that a three-pronged forbearance standard set forth in Section 10 of the Act has been satisfied: (1) enforcement is not necessary to ensure that charges, practices, classifications, or regulations in connection with a service are just and reasonable, and not unjustly or unreasonably discriminatory; (2) enforcement is not necessary for the protection of consumers; and (3) forbearance is consistent with the public interest. Under the third prong, the Act requires the Commission to consider whether forbearance will promote competitive market conditions and assess the extent to which such forbearance will enhance competition among providers of telecommunications services.

In this proceeding, the record, combined with the Commission's own official notice of relevant precedent, enabled the Commission to partially grant PCIA's Petition. Specifically, the Commission granted partial forbearance to all CMRS providers from the requirement to file tariffs for international services. The Commission held that CMRS providers are no longer required to file tariffs to offer international service directly to their customers for international routes where they are not affiliated with any carrier that terminates U.S. international traffic and collects settlement payments from U.S. carriers.

The Commission also granted partial forbearance from applying Section 226 of the Act. Congress enacted Section 226 (Telephone Operators Consumer Services Improvement Act or TOCSIA) in 1990 to protect consumers who make interstate operator service calls from pay telephones, hotels, and other public locations against unreasonably high rates and anticompetitive practices. The Commission determined to forbear from applying in the CMRS context those provisions of TOCSIA that relate to allowing consumers unblocked access to the interstate service provider of their choice from public phones, consistent with Congressional and Commission determinations that CMRS consumers generally do not require unblocked access protection. The Commission also forbore from requiring CMRS providers of operator services to file informational tariffs.

The Commission declined to forbear from enforcing the remaining statutory and regulatory provisions raised by PCIA because the factual record generated by the PCIA Petition, supplemented by the Commission's own efforts to bolster the record by relying on relevant precedent, failed to satisfy the criteria set forth by Congress in Section 10 of the Act. The Commission declined to forbear from applying to CMRS providers sections 201 and 202 of the Act, which, among other duties, require common carriers to provide service under rates, terms and conditions that are just, reasonable and non-discriminatory. The Commission also declined to forbear from enforcing Section 20.12(b) of the Commission's rules, which requires broadband PCS, cellular, and covered specialized mobile radio (SMR) carriers to permit unrestricted resale of their services until five years after the last group of initial licenses for broadband PCS is awarded. In addition, the Commission found that forbearance from requiring CMRS providers to obtain separate authorization to provide international services under Section 214 of the Act had not been shown to be consistent with the public interest.

The Commission also found that the record did not support forbearance from applying in the CMRS context provisions of TOCSIA other than those relating to unblocked access and filing informational tariffs. These provisions include requirements to disclose to users of public phones the identity of the service provider, rates, and other information; a requirement that users be permitted to terminate calls at no charge before the call is connected; a prohibition against billing for unanswered calls; a prohibition against billing based on a location other than where the call actually originated; and requirements relating to routing of emergency calls. The Commission noted that PCIA had made arguments which, if supported, could establish grounds for forbearing from some or all of these provisions in the future. Accordingly, in the Notice the Commission asked questions designed to elicit specific information relevant to determining whether forbearance from additional provisions of TOCSIA is appropriate.

Although only portions of PCIA's Petition have been granted, the Commission emphasized its commitment to forbear from enforcing provisions of the Act and FCC rules that inhibit or distort competition in the marketplace, represent unnecessary regulatory costs, or stand as obstacles to lower prices, greater service options, and higher quality services for American telecommunications consumers. In this regard, the Commission also sought general comment in the Notice regarding forbearance from applying any regulation or provision of the Act to wireless telecommunications carriers licensed by the Commission.

Action by the Commission June 23, 1998 by Memorandum Opinion and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 98-134). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness and Tristani with , Commissioner Powell concurring in part and dissenting in part and Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth dissenting; Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Powell and Furchtgott-Roth issuing statements.


News Media contact: Meribeth McCarrick at 202-418-0654
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau contact: Steve Weingarten at (202) 418-0620
International Bureau contact: Doug Klein at 202-418-0424