VOL. 13, NO. 46
November 20, 2017

February 6-7, 2018
Policy Summit
December 4 

December 15

December 19
INCOMPAS Challenges FCC's Anti-Competitive Turn on
Tech Transitions and Lifeline 
At its November Open Meeting last week, the FCC cut in half the notification timeline for copper retirements, from 180 days to just 90 days, and proposed making it more difficult for competitive companies to provide Lifeline service. INCOMPAS questioned the FCC's actions as another attempt to help broadband monopolies and hurt competition.

Wireline Broadband
On a split vote, the FCC adopted a Report and Order, Declaratory Ruling, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order in the wireline broadband deployment proceeding. In it, the FCC clarified that pole owners are barred from charging capital expenses they have already recovered in make-ready fees and establishes an 180-day shot clock on pole attachment access complaints. It also allows ILECs access to poles owned by CLECs. The order reduces the ILEC's waiting period to retire copper from 180 days to 90 days from the FCC's issuance of a public notice. 

In advance of the November 16 open meeting, INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering said in a statement that it's "premature for the Commission to reduce competitors' notification period on existing network access when the barriers that significantly delay fiber deployment have not been addressed.

"Competitive broadband providers dragged the incumbent monopolies kicking and screaming into the future with Ethernet and fiber. Bipartisan policies that provide wholesale network access have encouraged network growth and unleashed investment giving consumers more choices and lower prices.

"The FCC says they support streamlining broadband deployment, but are punishing smaller network builders. Cutting competitors' transition period in half (from 180 days to 90 days) before the Commission takes action to remove barriers to deployment - like accelerating the pole attachment process and addressing rights of way issues - is clearly out of step. The FCC should adopt a competition first policy, and streamline deployment before doing favors that only benefit monopoly broadband players.

"Building competitive networks is hard, expensive and time consuming. But with an economy moving rapidly toward a streaming and cloud revolution, encouraging more companies, not just monopoly incumbents, to build new networks of the future takes on even greater importance."

On a split 3-2 vote, the Commission approved a Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, Memorandum Opinion and Order, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry that makes and proposes significant changes to the current Lifeline program. In his statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai described several changes the Order will make to the program, including:
  • Establishing mapping resources to target enhanced Lifeline support ($34.25) to rural Tribal lands;
  • Directing enhanced Tribal support to facilities-based providers;
  • Requiring independent certification of residency on Tribal lands for those seeking enhanced Tribal support;
  • Eliminating the "port freeze" which ensured that subscribers receiving broadband service would remain a customer for at least 12 months; and
  • Clarifying that "premium Wi-Fi" does not qualify as a Lifeline-eligible service.
The NPRM and NOI will seek comment on a number of additional changes to the program, including: states' role in ETC designation, eliminating support for non-facilities based providers, a budget cap, eligibility verification, and changes to the program funding paradigm.

On Lifeline, Pickering added that "c ompetition prevents government programs from becoming slush funds for sloths. We fear the FCC proposal to allow only facilities-based companies to offer Lifeline services will significantly reduce the number of companies providing critical Lifeline services for low-income, job-seeking Americans and children needing access to education services designed for the 21st century. Consumers benefit from competition, and INCOMPAS plans to participate in the FCC's rulemaking to advance this interest in the Lifeline program."

During its November meeting, the FCC also addressed wireless broadband and robocalling issues: 

Wireless Broadband
The FCC unanimously adopted the Report and Order it circulated in the Wireless Broadband Deployment Proceeding that provides some streamlining on utility pole replacements, with the following two changes on which INCOMPAS advocated:   
  1. The Order now allows a replacement pole to be sited up to 10 feet away from the original pole, provided that there is no new ground disturbance; and 
  2. A replacement pole can now be up to five feet taller than the original pole rather than being limited to a 10 percent increase.
The FCC approved a Report and Order that codifies its 2016 guidance on "do-not-originate" requests and allows voice service providers to block invalid, unallocated, and unassigned numbers.
Webinar on LNPA Contingency Rollback Planning Set for Nov. 29 
On November 29 at 3 p.m. ET, t he Transition Oversight Manager (TOM) of the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC)  will facilitate a small service provider focused session regarding LNPA transition contingency rollback planning. 

Additional details about Mechanized User Focused Contingency Rollback will be made available to those who register here.

Materials from the previous contingency rollback sessions held on October 3, August 16 and July 12 are also available on the website
Important LNPA Deadlines 
The FCC reminded all entities using the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC) that the process to transition operation of the NPAC from Neustar to iconectiv is well underway.

All entities that use the NPAC, including providers of
telecommunications and telecommunications-related services, service bureaus, law enforcement/public safety agencies, and users of Wireless Do-Not-Call services, must register with iconectiv. 

The window to register and prepare for the transition is rapidly closing. Important registration deadlines for law enforcement and public safety entities include:
  • November 30 - Law Enforcement, Public Safety entities and Wireless Do-Not-Call service must register if they want to participate in pre-cutover testing.
  • December - Testing for these users is scheduled to begin
  • December 31 - All users must register, whether or not they are participating in testing.
  • March 2018 - Cutover for these services begin.
Note: It is important to note that the consequences of not registering will be a lapse in service until registration is complete.
Member Profile: 
ATL Communications 
ATL Communications is America's and Canada's first and largest independent Responsible Organization (RespOrg), managing millions of toll-free and local numbers. Carriers, call centers and enterprise clients have entrusted ATL Communications with the responsibility of managing and maintaining numbers and essential phone services with reliability and consistency since 1993.

Visit the INCOMPAS website to learn more about ATL Communications.

For more information on submitting a member profile, or updating an existing one, email Natalie DeHart or call 202-296-6650.