FCC Proposes Extending Freeze on Jurisdictional Separations Procedures

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The FCC in a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) seeks comment on further extending for 18 months, until December 31, 2018, the current freeze of jurisdictional separations and cost allocation factors for rate-of-return incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) so the FCC and Federal-State Joint Board on Jurisdictional Separations (Joint Board) may consider the impact of new policy changes on reforms of the separations rules. In 2001, the FCC froze the Part 36 jurisdictional separation rules for five years or until the FCC completed comprehensive separations reform. The freeze was intended to provide regulatory certainty for ILECs by minimizing any impacts on separations results that might occur due to technical and regulatory changes in the communications sector over the last two decades, such as growth in local competition and new technologies. The freeze was subsequently extended six times and expires June 30, 2017. The FCC states that recent policy changes in the high cost universal service support program, intercarrier compensation systems, and Part 32 accounting rules significantly affect analysis of comprehensive separations reform and an eighteen months freeze will allow time for consideration of the impact of these reforms on the separations rules. The Joint Board is scheduled to meet in July 2017 and the FCC expects recommendations by April 2018. Comments are due 14 days and reply comments are due 21 days after the date of publication of the FNPRM in the Federal Register.

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