FCC Weed Whacks Arcane Carrier Reporting Rules, Plans to Jettison More

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The FCC updated two sets of rules relating to carriers, in both cases, eliminating those no longer needed and streamlining others.

The agency reformed outdated rules applicable to the 800 MHz band to ease the use of cellular spectrum for mobile broadband services like Long Term Evolution (LTE), which provide high-speed connectivity to consumers. The Commission says the changes will enable mobile broadband providers to be more efficient and reduce their administrative burdens. The FCC will facilitate broadband technologies by changing its technical rules to permit cellular licensees to transmit the same amount of power across the spectrum band, whether they are deploying a narrow bandwidth technology or wider bandwidth technology like LTE.

In all, the changes will enable carriers to respond more quickly and at lower cost to changing consumer demands, said Nina Shafran of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau during Thursday’s FCC meeting.     

The other big change concerns international reporting requirements for telecom providers. The Commission wants to eliminate the annual Traffic and Revenue Reports, saying the cost of collecting information has now exceeded the benefit of having the information. Right now, providers must file annual reports detailing their traffic and revenue for international voice services, international miscellaneous services, and international private lines. International telecommunications service providers spend almost 15,000 hours each year preparing these reports, according to the agency.

Saying he used to be a staffer that had to work on those reports, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai hopes the time and effort that used to be expended on the reports “will be put towards more productive use. We should ensure our reports are a function of actual need, not agency inertia.”

Characterizing the reporting requirements as “arcane,” USTelecom applauded the move, calling it good policy that’s also good for consumers. “Today’s international calling market is highly competitive, with almost two thousand U.S. providers offering international calling services. Removal of these arcane reporting requirements will enable providers to focus less on filling out unnecessary paperwork, and more on building, maintaining and upgrading America’s broadband networks,” said USTelecom President/CEO Jonathan Spalter.  

The FCC also seeks public comment on ways to further streamline the Circuit Capacity Reports. The Commission believes these reports may no longer be necessary in their current form. Now, international telecom service providers must file annual reports identifying submarine cable, satellite, and terrestrial capacity between the United States and foreign countries. The proposal asks whether alternatives or substitutes for the Commission’s data are available.     

March 24, 2017   

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