Incompas to FCC: Copper retirement rules need to be harmonized

Competitive telecom industry association Incompas agrees with TelePacific's observation that the FCC needs to bring harmony to its rules related to copper retirement and service discontinuance.

In an earlier petition, TelePacific asked the FCC to provide clarity on what will happen when the loss of access to retired copper by an ILEC like AT&T (NYSE: T) or Verizon (NYSE: VZ) leads to a discontinuance of retail service by a competitive carrier that had been leasing the copper.

"Specifically, the Commission needs to ensure that a timely filed discontinuance application from a competitor that relies on the retired copper unbundled network element is granted prior to, or simultaneously with, the effective date of the copper retirement," Incompas said in a FCC filing. "Whether the Commission determines "timely filed" to be 30, 40 or, at most, 60 days, the time clock should not start when the Commission releases a Public Notice of the filing, but be measured from the date the competitor submits its discontinuance application to the Commission."

Under the current FCC copper retirement rules, the "application to discontinue, reduce or impair service, if filed by a domestic, non-dominant carrier, shall be automatically granted on the 31st day after its filing with the Commission ..." Incompas says competitive providers like TelePacific, which rent ILEC copper loops to deliver Ethernet over Copper services, have no control over when the FCC will issue the automatic grant for discontinuing service. At the same time there's no rule in place to delay an ILEC from retiring copper in the event that it could interrupt an existing business customers services.

A number of ILECs, including Verizon which recently filed an opposition to TelePacific's request, say that they will replace copper with fiber-based facilities.

Verizon maintains that TelePacific and other CLECs have plenty of time to respond to the ILEC community's efforts to retire copper in their wireline serving areas.

Incompas says that the FCC did not "put in place a requirement that the ILEC provide a comparable facility, at comparable rates, terms, and conditions, to the unbundled bare copper the ILEC is retiring."

While TelePacific and other CLECs are advocates of fiber-based solutions, access to copper-based loops have enabled it and other competitors like to offer 10-50 Mbps Ethernet over Copper speeds to smaller businesses, for example.

For more:
- see the Incompas filing (PDF)
- and the Sonic filing (PDF)

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