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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St., SW
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

DA 99-2541
November 16, 1999

Network Services Division
Common Carrier Bureau
Section 214 Application     Applicant: AT&T Communications
Application accepted for filing. Comments invited.
NSD File No. W-P-D-443,
Discontinuance - AT&T Toll-Free Directory Assistance
Service - 1-800-555-1212

On November 12, 1999, AT&T Communications ("AT&T") filed an application requesting authority under section 214(a) of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. 214(a), and section 63.71 of the Federal Communications Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 63.71, to discontinue providing AT&T Toll-Free Directory Assistance Service, which is called by dialing 1-800-555-1212. The date of the planned discontinuance is March 31, 2000.

AT&T Toll-Free Directory Assistance Service is offered to its customers - the providers of toll free numbers (Responsible Organizations, or RespOrgs) - in the United States Mainland, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, CNMI, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. The service enables every RespOrg to list the toll free service numbers for which it is responsible in AT&T's Directory Assistance Database. The service allows persons to call the AT&T Directory Assistance Bureau by dialing 1-800-555-1212, to obtain the toll-free service number associated with a particular toll-free service listing.

AT&T states it has notified all affected customers by letter of its proposed discontinuance and has submitted a copy of its application to the Secretary of Defense and to the Public Utility Commission and Governor of each State for which the discontinuance is proposed. AT&T's application appears to be complete. In accordance with 47 C.F.R. 63.71(c), the application will be deemed to be automatically granted on the 31st day after the release date of this Public Notice, without any Commission notification to the applicant, unless the Commission has notified the applicant that the grant will not be automatically effective. The FCC will normally authorize proposed discontinuances of service unless it is shown that customers or other end users would be unable to receive service or a reasonable substitute from another carrier, or that the public convenience and necessity is otherwise adversely affected.

AT&T's application states there are available substitutes to toll free directory assistance with which a RespOrg may list toll-free service numbers, including internet-based directories, such as AT&T's AnyWho, bill inserts, product packaging, and caller-paid local and national directory assistance services such as 411. According to the application, fewer than 5 percent of toll free numbers are listed, yet it is evident by the continued growth of toll-free call volume that callers do obtain and use toll-free numbers without the need for toll-free directory assistance. AT&T states that the cost of providing toll-free directory assistance service, over 40 cents for each listing provided to callers, does not justify the declining value derived from the service.

AT&T's application also states that to potentially increase the distribution of toll-free numbers to callers using alternative directory services, AT&T intends to begin providing AT&T listings to alternative directory services that request them, and that it will consider offering a database administration service to collect and update other RespOrg toll-free listing information into a centralized database if there is a sufficient level of demand for the service. To educate callers about this change in service, AT&T's application states that AT&T will place an announcement on its Toll Free Directory Assistance Service approximately 90 days before the termination of the service, and that, after service termination, AT&T will place another announcement on the service informing callers of the service discontinuance and suggesting other possible alternatives.

The Bureau invites comments on whether customers or end users would be able to receive service or a reasonable substitute from another carrier or whether the public convenience and necessity would be otherwise adversely affected by the proposed discontinuance. Comments are specifically sought on whether other providers of toll free directory assistance would request AT&T's listings, which AT&T states it will provide upon request, or whether a service that collects and updates other RespOrg toll-free listing information into a centralized database, which AT&T states it may provide if there a sufficient level of demand, would encourage the development of reasonable substitutes for the current service. We also seek comment on whether, in reviewing AT&T's application, we should consider the possible acquisition of this service by or its transfer to another entity. Comments must be filed with the Commission by December 8, 1999.

It is requested that comments responding to this Public Notice refer to NSD File Number W-P-D-443. Comments should be sent to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. Two copies of the comments should also be sent to Network Services Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Room 6-A207, Washington, DC 20554. The application and all comments will be available for review and copying during regular business hours at the FCC Reference Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW, Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554, (202) 418-0270.

For further information, contact Al McCloud, (202) 418-2499 (voice), amccloud@fcc.gov, or Les Selzer, (202) 418-2320 (voice), lselzer@fcc.gov, at the Network Services Division, Common Carrier Bureau. The TTY number is (202) 418-0484.