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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

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).

JUNE 9, 1999

Emily Hoffnar 202/418-0253


Today the Federal Communications Commission granted, in part, the petition of U S WEST Communications, Inc. (U S WEST) to allow it to provide nonlocal directory assistance service. In particular, the Commission concluded that U S WEST may continue providing the regionwide component (telephone numbers within its territory) of its nonlocal directory assistance service to customers throughout its region. In addition, the Commission partially granted U S WEST's petition for forbearance by allowing it continue providing this regionwide service on a structurally integrated basis. At the same time, however, the Commission found that in order to continue providing the nationwide component (telephone numbers outside its territory) of its nonlocal directory assistance service, U S WEST must reconfigure the service.

In April 1997, U S WEST began offering what it calls "national directory assistance" to customers throughout its region. This service permits U S WEST to offer both local and nonlocal directory assistance services via the 411 dialing code. With this service, U S WEST customers can obtain the telephone number of a person or business located anywhere in the United States.

Subsequent to its provision of this service, U S WEST filed a declaratory petition asking the Commission to find that this national directory assistance service does not violate section 271 of the Communications Act. Section 271 prohibits Bell Operating Companies (BOC), such as U S WEST, from providing long distance services originating in the states where they currently provide local exchange and exchange access services before they satisfy certain statutory requirements. BOCs, however, are not required to receive regulatory approval to provide long distance services that are either previously authorized services under section 271(f) or incidental interLATA services as defined in section 271(g). U S WEST also filed a petition for forbearance asking that, if the Commission finds that its provision of nonlocal directory assistance service is subject to the separate affiliate requirements of section 272, the Commission forbear from applying those requirements.

The Commission concluded that, although U S WEST's provision of the regionwide component of its nonlocal directory assistance is a long distance service, it falls within the scope of the exception provided in section 271(g)(4). Accordingly, the Commission found that U S WEST may continue its provision of regionwide directory assistance service. The Commission also concluded, however, that the nationwide component of U S WEST 's nonlocal directory assistance, as currently configured, does not qualify for this same exception because U S WEST does not own the database used to provide the national directory assistance information. Accordingly, the Commission ordered U S WEST to cease providing this service until the service is reconfigured to comply with the statute.

The Commission partially granted U S WEST's petition for forbearance by relieving U S WEST of its obligation to provide regionwide directory assistance service on a structurally separate basis. The Commission did not forbear, however, from the requirement that U S WEST must make available to all unaffiliated entities all of the telephone numbers it uses in providing regionwide directory assistance service at the same rates, terms, and conditions it imputes to itself. Because of U S WEST's historic monopoly control over these telephone numbers, the Commission found that imposition of a nondiscrimination requirement with respect to the telephone numbers U S WEST uses to provide regionwide directory assistance service was necessary. The Commission concluded that such a nondiscrimination requirement should promote the development of a fully competitive market for this service by ensuring that no one competitor will have an undue advantage in the regionwide directory assistance services market.

The Commission also found that forbearance from the structural separation requirements would benefit consumers because they will be able to obtain a convenient, competitively-priced service. In addition, permitting U S WEST to provide regionwide directory assistance on a structurally integrated basis will allow U S WEST to remain an effective competitor. Increased competition, the Commission concluded, will encourage providers of directory assistance services to compete on the basis of price and quality, which will ultimately benefit consumers.

Finally, the Commission also permitted U S WEST to continue using the 411 dialing code to provide regionwide directory assistance service. In making this finding, the Commission noted that any carrier that provides the local customer with local exchange service will also be able to use this same nationally-recognized number for provision of its directory assistance services.

COMMON CARRIER BUREAU CONTACTS: Audrey Wright (202) 418-2725

Report No. 99-19
CC Docket Nos. 97-172, 92-105

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