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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).

July 9, 1999
Emily Hoffnar 202/418-0253


The Commission acted today to lower the charges customers of U S WEST Communications, Inc. will pay for local number portability. As a result of today's actions and the Commission's previous decisions lowering the number portability charges of other local telephone companies, the amount consumers will pay for local number portability has been reduced by almost $900 million on a nationwide basis.

As required by Congress, local number portability allows consumers to change local service providers without changing their telephone number in the process. In a 1998 order, the Commission permitted, but did not require, local telephone companies to recover some of their costs of providing number portability through a monthly charge on consumers for five years. U S WEST filed its local number portability tariff in January 1999, seeking to recover $528 million over the five-year period and proposing a consumer charge of $0.53 per month.

After determining that U S WEST's number portability rates raised issues of lawfulness, the Commission's Common Carrier Bureau instituted a five-month investigation. Today's Order terminates the investigation and lowers U S WEST's consumer charge from $0.53 per month to $0.43 per month and will allow recovery of $410 million over the five-year period. The Commission disallowed recovery of $118 million in costs claimed by U S WEST. The Order also accepts U S WEST's revised filed query service charges.

Consumer charges for number portability currently range from $0.23 per month (Bell Atlantic) to $0.48 per month (Sprint Local). In reaching its decision, the Commission recognized that U S WEST's charge is at the upper end of this range. The Commission noted that local telephone companies' charges may vary based on a number of factors, including network configuration, equipment type, service territory, and number of access lines. After fully investigating U S WEST's cost recovery claims, the Commission determined that U S WEST's revised consumer charge of $0.43 per month was justified by its particular network configuration, equipment type and service territory.

Congress directed local telephone companies to offer telephone number portability in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Congress recognized that one of the major barriers to competition was the inability of customers to switch from one telephone company to another and retain the same telephone number. Congress realized that customers would be reluctant to switch to new telephone service providers if they were unable to keep their existing telephone numbers in the process.

Like its previous actions, today's action by the Commission is aimed at ensuring that the rates charged by the local telephone companies are as affordable as possible, yet enable the local telephone companies to recover the direct costs they incur in equipping their networks to provide number portability service. The Commission's decision represents another important step in its continuing effort to promote competition in the local telephone market as mandated by Congress. Increased competition, indeed even the potential for competition, will ultimately produce higher quality services and lower prices for all telephone services.

Action by the Commission, July 9, 1999, by Memorandum Opinion and Order in CC Docket No. 99-35 (FCC 99-158); Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Tristani, and Powell; Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth dissenting and issuing a statement.

COMMON CARRIER BUREAU CONTACT: Janet Sievert at (202) 418-1530.

Report No. CC 99-26
CC Docket No. 99-35

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