This News Release: Text | Word97
Statements: Ness | Powell
FCC 99-238: Summary


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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).

September 15, 1999

Mike Balmoris (202) 418-0253


Adopts Rules on Unbundling of Network Elements

Washington, D.C. -- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules today that specify the portions of the nation's local telephone networks that incumbent local telephone companies must make available to competitors seeking to provide competitive local telephone service. This FCC decision removes a major uncertainty surrounding the unbundling obligations of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and is expected to accelerate the development of competitive choices in local services for consumers. Unbundling allows competitors to lease portions of the incumbent's network to provide telecommunications services.

Today's order responds to a U.S. Supreme Court decision which generally affirmed the FCC's implementation of the pro-competition goals of the Telecommunications Act, but which required the Commission to re-evaluate the standard it uses to determine which network elements the incumbent local phone companies must unbundle.

Today's order adopts a standard for determining whether incumbents must unbundle a network element. Applying the revised standard, the Commission reaffirmed that incumbents must provide unbundled access to six of the original seven network elements that it required to be unbundled in the original order in 1996:

(1) loops, including loops used to provide high-capacity and advanced telecommunications services;
(2) network interface devices;
(3) local circuit switching (except for larger customers in major urban markets);
(4) dedicated and shared transport;
(5) signaling and call-related databases; and,
(6) operations support systems.
The Commission determined that it is generally no longer necessary for incumbent LECs to provide competitive carriers with the seventh element of the original list -- access to their operator and directory assistance services. The Commission concluded that the market has developed since 1996 to where competitors can and do self-provision these services, or acquire them from alternative sources.

The Commission also concluded, in light of competitive deployment of switches in the major urban areas, that, subject to certain conditions, incumbent LECs need not provide access to unbundled local circuit switching for customers with four or more lines that are located in the densest parts of the top 50 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).

The Commission also addressed the unbundling obligations for network elements that were not on the original list in 1996. The Commission required incumbents to provide unbundled access to subloops, or portions of loops, and dark fiber optic loops and transport. In addition, the Commission declined, except in limited circumstances, to require incumbent LECs to unbundle the facilities used to provide high-speed Internet access and other data services, specifically, packet switches and digital subscriber line access multiplexers (DSLAMs). Given the nascent nature of this market and the desire of the Commission to do nothing to discourage the rapid deployment of advanced services, the Commission declined to impose an obligation on incumbents to provide unbundled access to packet switching or DSLAMs at this time. The Commission further noted that competing carriers are aggressively deploying such equipment in order to serve this emerging market sector.

Finally, the Commission also concluded that the record in this proceeding does not address sufficiently issues surrounding the ability of carriers to use certain unbundled network elements as a substitute for the incumbent LECs' special access services. The Commission therefore adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) seeking comment on these issues.

Action by the Commission, September 15, 1999, by Third Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in CC Docket No. 96-98 (FCC 99-238). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness and Tristani, with Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth concurring in part and dissenting in part and Commissioner Powell dissenting in part. Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth and Powell issuing statements.


Common Carrier Bureau Contacts:
Carol Mattey , Claudia Fox, Jake Jennings at (202) 418-1580

Report No. CC 99-41


Network Elements that Must be Unbundled

Network Elements that Need Not be Unbundled.

Modification of the National List.

Combinations of Network Elements.

Further Notice: Use of Unbundled Network Elements to Provide Exchange Access Service.