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FCC Lifts Boatload of Telephone Regs

The FCC under outgoing chair Julius Genachowski Friday unanimously voted to lift some phone company regs it called unnecessary and outdated. It also sought input on getting rid of even more. But telcos said the FCC did not go  far enough.

There were over 120 regulations the FCC said it would either modify or not enforce, the commission said, while pointing out that one of the ones it is not getting rid of is the requirement that companies "notify consumers when services are being eliminated."

Those eliminated include paper record requirements made in an era of digital databases, records no longer used by the commission and many others outlined in the 170-page order and notice.

US Telecom, which represents the phone companies, had petitioned the FCC to get rid of 141 separate regs in 17 categories, all of which it said were unnecessary and outdated. The FCC agreed on 126 of those, though granting only partial forbearance in a few cases by way of reduced burdens or conditional forbearance.

The FCC made clear it was not preempting any state or local requirement similar to those the FCC is forbearing (not enforcing).

The FCC put off for another day, and teed up in a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, "whether to retain, modify, or eliminate the comparably efficient interconnection (CEI) and open network architecture (ONA) requirements as well as the "All Carrier Rule."

USTelecom said the FCC did not go far enough. "While we are pleased that the FCC agreed to do some de-cluttering, it missed the opportunity for the thorough spring cleaning that has long been needed," said USTelecom Presidnet Walter McCormick in a statement, " one that would have been a meaningful fulfillment of the commitment by President Obama and Chairman Genachowski to eliminate unnecessary regulation. It instead left in place requirements that produce reams of information that the commission no longer looks at - and has not looked at - for the last five years."