FCC Adopts New Telecommunications Transition Rules

The Federal Communications Commission enacted reforms that will better enable providers to invest in next-generation networks. The FCC is also seeking comment on additional reforms, including how the FCC can expedite rebuilding and repairing broadband infrastructure after natural disasters.

One set of changes approved govern access to utility poles and conduits, which can be a costly and time-consuming barrier to broadband deployment. Changes include rules that:

  • Reduce costs faced by broadband providers by barring pole owners from charging for certain costs they have already recovered from others (called make-ready fees).
  • Speed resolution of pole attachment disputes by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau through use of a 180-day “shot clock.”
  • Allow local providers equal access to each other’s poles.

Another set of reforms revise rules that needlessly delay or even stop companies from replacing copper with fiber and that delay discontinuance of technologies from the 1970s in favor of services using Internet Protocol (IP) technologies. The reforms will:

  • Allow providers to notify customers, including federal agencies, earlier of upcoming network changes and copper retirements.
  • Reduce consumer confusion and carrier burden caused by duplicative Commissionmandated copper retirement notices.
  • Speed the timeframe for upgrading copper to fiber.
  • Expedite applications filed by carriers seeking to: (1) stop taking new customers for lowspeed voice and data services; (2) discontinue previously “grandfathered” low-speed data services; and (3) discontinue low-speed services for which there are no customers.
  • Eliminate section 214(a) discontinuance requirements for solely wholesale services. 
  • Reverse a 2014 interpretation that diverted investment from next-generation networks by requiring carriers to receive FCC approval before upgrading legacy services.

FCC Adopts New Telecommunications Transition Rules