[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 67 (Monday, April 8, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 20796-20800]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-08030]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 54

[WC Docket Nos. 10-90 and 05-337; DA 13-282]


Data Specifications for Collecting Study Area Boundaries

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Wireline Competition Bureau adopts 
modifications to the data specifications for collecting study area 
boundaries for purposes of implementing various reforms. The original 
specifications were adopted in the Commission's Connect America Fund; 
High-Cost Universal Service Support, Report and Order, (Study Area 
Boundary Order), released on November 6, 2012.

DATES: Effective April 8, 2013. The modifications adopted in this 
document are revisions to the Study Area Boundary Order data 
collection. The Study Area Boundary Order contained new information 
collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 
(PRA), Public Law 104-13. The Bureau submitted a request for emergency 
PRA approval for the new data collection to the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) in December 2012, and OMB approved the Bureau's 
request on January 23, 2013. The OMB control number for this collection 
is 3060-1181.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chelsea Fallon, Assistant Division 
Chief, at 202-418-7991, Industry Analysis & Technology Division, 
Wireline Competition Bureau. For additional information concerning the 
PRA information collection requirements contained in this document, 
send an email to PRA@fcc.gov or contact Judith B. Herman at 202-418-
0214.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Bureau's Study Area 
Boundary Reconsideration Order (Reconsideration Order) in WC Docket No. 
10-90; WC Docket No. 05-337; DA 13-282, released on February 26, 2013. 
The full text of this document is available for public inspection 
during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-
A257, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554, and may also be 
purchased from the Commission's copy contractor, BCPI, Inc., Portals 
II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554. Customers 
may contact BCPI, Inc. via their Web site, http://www.bcpi.com, or call 
1-800-378-3160. This document is available in alternative formats 
(computer diskette, large print, audio record, and Braille). Persons 
with disabilities who need documents in these formats may contact the 
FCC by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202-418-0530 or TTY: 202-418-
0432.

Synopsis of Reconsideration Order

    1. On November 6, 2012, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) 
released the Study Area Boundary Order, DA 12-

[[Page 20797]]

1777, published at 78 FR 5750, January 28, 2013, OMB Control Number 
3060-1181, adopting data specifications for the collection of study 
area boundary data to use in the implementation of certain universal 
service reforms adopted as part of the USF/ICC Transformation Order, 76 
FR 73830, November 29, 2011. The Study Area Boundary Order required 
incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) to submit certified study area 
boundary data in esri shapefile format, and it allowed state 
commissions or state telecommunications associations (state entities) 
voluntarily to submit such data on the LECs' behalf. In this 
Reconsideration Order, the Bureau modifies on its own motion several 
aspects of the rules adopted in the Study Area Boundary Order.
    2. First, the Bureau concludes that it is more appropriate for 
state commissions to certify to the accuracy of the study area boundary 
data when they submit such data on behalf of the incumbent LECs 
operating in their state. Second, the Bureau reconsiders its decision 
to permit state associations to submit data on behalf of incumbent LECs 
and instead require that the entity that will certify to the accuracy 
of the data make the submission. Third, the Bureau permits incumbent 
LECs that are price cap carriers to submit exchange-level study area 
boundary data by providing internal wire center boundaries, if they 
choose, and indicating the exchange(s) associated with the wire center. 
Finally, the Bureau provides some guidance as to expectations regarding 
the certification requirement and clarifies the standards of accuracy 
laid out in the Study Area Boundary Order.
    3. State Entity Certification. In the Study Area Boundary Order, 
the Bureau allowed state entities voluntarily to submit shapefiles on 
behalf of any and/or all incumbent LECs within their states. The Bureau 
stated that state commissions typically are the entities that establish 
incumbent LEC service areas and therefore are well situated to assist 
incumbent LECs in preparing study area boundary data. The Study Area 
Boundary Order concluded, however, that even when states submit data on 
behalf of incumbent LECs, those incumbent LECs remain responsible for 
reviewing and certifying to the accuracy of the state-submitted data. 
With this Reconsideration Order, the Bureau modifies certain aspects of 
these requirements; it concludes that the entity submitting data to the 
Commission is the more appropriate entity to certify to the accuracy of 
the study area boundaries and continues to encourage states to submit 
data on behalf of their incumbent LECs.
    4. Since release of the Study Area Boundary Order, some incumbent 
LECs have argued that, because state commissions are the entities 
responsible for establishing study area boundaries, state commissions 
should be responsible for submitting such boundaries and/or certifying 
that they are accurate. In addition, certain state commissions have 
also asserted that they should be involved in or responsible for 
certifying the accuracy of the study area boundaries in their state. 
The Bureau recognizes that both state commissions and the Commission 
have a role in overseeing study area boundaries. Therefore, it is 
appropriate for the state commissions that voluntarily undertake the 
task of submitting boundary data to us to certify that these data are 
accurate and correct to the best of their knowledge, information, and 
belief. In addition to acknowledging the states' traditional role in 
administering incumbent LEC study area boundaries, the Bureau also 
believes that it is most efficient and direct for an entity submitting 
data to the Commission to be responsible for its accuracy, rather than 
having data submitted by one party but verified by another. While state 
commissions were the entities that originally established study area 
boundaries for the incumbent LECs in their state, the Bureau 
acknowledges that certain states may not have the resources available 
to compile and submit study area boundary data in the format requested 
for this data collection. The Bureau therefore will continue to rely on 
individual incumbent LECs to submit data on the study areas they serve, 
in cases where state commissions do not submit data, and will invite 
state entities to participate in any necessary reconciliation of data 
submitted by ILECs.
    5. State commissions wishing to submit and certify study area 
boundary data should notify the Commission in writing of their 
intention to do so by filing a notification in WC Docket No. 10-90 
using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). In 
these notifications, states should indicate which incumbent LEC study 
areas they plan to include in their submission. The Bureau will release 
a Public Notice identifying the deadlines for these notices, as well as 
the deadlines for the shapefile submissions and certifications, in the 
near future. States planning to submit data will be able to file at a 
later date than incumbent LECs since the states will have already taken 
on the task of resolving any disputes and ensuring the accuracy of the 
filing. State commissions should submit data based on the specification 
in the Specification attached hereto. The Bureau expects that the 
boundaries submitted and certified by state commissions will have been 
verified and reconciled at the state level, and that minimal further 
reconciliation will need to be done by Commission staff.
    6. If a state commission does not notify the Commission that it 
intends to submit study area boundary data for the incumbent LECs in 
its state, those incumbent LECs are required to submit and certify 
their study area boundary data under the rules and procedures 
established in the Study Area Boundary Order and this Reconsideration 
Order, as well as subsequent Public Notices providing filing deadlines 
and instructions.
    7. On reconsideration, the Bureau no longer provides an option for 
state associations to submit data on behalf of incumbent LECs in their 
state. Consistent with the decision above that state commissions making 
submissions should certify as to the accuracy of the data, the party 
submitting the data should also certify as to its accuracy, consistent 
with the certification standard as explained below. The Bureau does not 
believe that the state associations are likely to have the necessary 
information to be able to certify as to the accuracy of incumbent LECs' 
data; the Bureau therefore reconsiders the earlier decision to provide 
the option for state associations to submit data on behalf of incumbent 
LECs. However, state associations can assist state commissions and 
incumbent LECs in preparing boundary data and in the reconciliation of 
data submitted by incumbent LECs. In those states where the state 
commission chooses not to submit data on behalf of all incumbents, the 
Bureau encourages state commissions and state telecommunications 
associations to participate in the process of reconciling data 
submitted by the incumbent LECs and will share such data with them to 
assist in that function. For instance, the Bureau plans to provide 
state entities with a map of the LEC-submitted boundaries for their 
review and comment. If boundary overlaps, void areas, or disputes occur 
in data submitted by incumbent LECs, the Bureau will seek input from 
the relevant state entities and incumbent LECs to help resolve such 
issues. If a state commission chooses not to participate in the 
reconciliation process, the Bureau will resolve the matter based on the 
information before us.

[[Page 20798]]

    8. The Bureau emphasizes that it needs to complete the initial data 
collection with sufficient time to allow for its use in developing 
revised high cost loop support (HCLS) benchmarks that will determine 
support levels beginning January 1, 2014. If neither an incumbent LEC 
nor the relevant state commission submits or certifies boundary data 
for particular study areas, the Bureau will determine the boundaries of 
such study areas, using its own analysis and data sources, for purposes 
of establishing the HCLS benchmarks that will be used to deliver 
support in 2014. If state commissions or incumbent LECs make 
refinements or corrections to study area boundary data after the 
required deadlines in 2013, those modifications cannot be considered 
until the next time the Bureau updates the HCLS benchmarks.
    9. Submissions by Price Cap Carriers. The Study Area Boundary Order 
required all incumbent LECs to submit study area boundary data at the 
exchange level, with the shapefile for each study area depicting each 
internal exchange as a closed, non-overlapping polygon. It is important 
to collect exchange-level data from rate-of-return carriers because the 
Bureau, when conducting the analysis used to implement the HCLS 
benchmarking rule, must be able to distinguish those exchanges that are 
subject to ``frozen'' support levels from those that are not, and track 
and account for exchanges that are transferred from one incumbent LEC 
to another. However, because the HCLS benchmarking rule does not apply 
to price cap carriers, certain parties have argued that it may not be 
necessary or practical to collect study area boundary data at the 
exchange level from price cap carriers.
    10. The study area boundaries of price cap carriers are needed to 
``complete the puzzle'' for HCLS implementation--to verify the accuracy 
of adjacent rate-of-return carrier study areas. In addition, data on 
exchanges is useful for tracking the sale or transfer of exchanges 
between price cap and rate-of-return carriers. Knowing which exchanges 
have been transferred from a price cap carrier is important for HCLS 
implementation because it allows the Bureau to account for whether and 
how a rate-of-return carrier's study area boundary has changed as a 
result of the sale or purchase of an exchange. The Bureau therefore 
believes that exchange-level data from price cap carriers is necessary 
to ensure ongoing accurate HCLS implementation and will provide 
information generally useful for ongoing policy implementation at the 
Commission.
    11. While exchange-level data from rate-of-return carriers are 
essential to HCLS implementation, and the benefits of collecting these 
data fully exceed the burdens involved in submitting them, the Bureau 
recognizes that the benefits of obtaining similar data from price cap 
carriers--while substantial--are more removed, and that submitting data 
at that level of detail involves time and effort on the part of the 
incumbent LECs or state commissions. The Bureau therefore reconsiders 
its decision to require exchange-level data for price cap areas and 
will allow price cap carriers--or state commissions--to submit the 
boundaries of component wire centers, which may be less burdensome to 
compile in a shapefile format, when submitting price cap study area 
boundary data, as long as the filer indicates the exchange or exchanges 
associated with each wire center. In addition, the filer should submit 
both a polygon of the outer boundary of the price cap study area, as 
well as polygons for the individual interior wire center boundaries, as 
part of the same shapefile or map layer. This change should provide the 
Commission with adequate data for HCLS implementation while reducing 
the filing burden on incumbent LECs and state commissions.
    12. Accuracy Requirements. In the Study Area Boundary Order, the 
Bureau required that the submitted shapefiles conform to the 1:24,000 
scale, which is the standard used by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 
National Map and which claims to produce a horizontal accuracy of +/- 
40 feet. Certain parties have voiced concerns about certifying that the 
study area boundary data they submit have a horizontal accuracy of +/- 
40 feet. This requirement stems from the need to have boundaries 
conform to a common base map, rather than an accuracy requirement per 
se. If two adjoining study areas are bound by a road, stream, or other 
geographic or topographic feature, basing the maps of these areas on a 
standard scale of 1:24,000 will produce a more accurate set of 
boundaries and will greatly improve the reconciliation process.
    13. This Reconsideration Order clarifies that in the initial year 
of implementation of this data collection, the Bureau will take a 
flexible approach in administering the requirement that shapefiles 
conform to the 1:24,000 topographic scale of the USGS National Map or 
that have an accuracy level of +/- 40 feet. In particular, the Bureau 
emphasizes that it does not intend to penalize filers who undertake 
reasonable, good faith efforts to submit information within the 
necessary time frames, even if that information subsequently is 
adjusted or corrected in future years.
    14. The Bureau also acknowledges that even after incumbent LECs or 
state commissions certify to the accuracy of their submitted data, 
overlap and void areas can occur, and, in such cases, the Bureau will 
seek input from the relevant parties (incumbent LECs and/or state 
commissions) to resolve such issues during the reconciliation process. 
There may be disputes in particular instances as to the precise 
location of a boundary, and in this first year of implementation, the 
Bureau asks all parties to undertake best efforts to work with the 
Commission to develop a coherent national data set. The Bureau 
recognizes that the initial implementation of this data collection may 
be more challenging for some states than others, and the Bureau 
encourages all states to participate in this important effort.
    15. Finally, the Bureau provides guidance regarding the requirement 
that an official certify that the information provided is accurate and 
correct to the best of his or her knowledge, information, and belief. 
Such certifications should be based on the information before the 
official making the certification and on a reasonable, good faith 
effort to confirm the accuracy of submitted boundaries. For incumbent 
LECs in states where the state commission is unable, for whatever 
reason, to undertake this important task, it is necessary to have some 
party indicate that it has made a reasonable, good faith effort to 
verify the information in question, even though the incumbent LEC is 
not the ultimate decision maker regarding the location of the boundary. 
The certification from an official of an incumbent LEC regarding the 
location of the boundary to the best of that individual's knowledge, 
information, and belief will represent just that--the individual's or 
company's reasonable, good faith efforts.

Congressional Review Act

    16. The Commission will send a copy of this Reconsideration Order 
in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability 
Office, pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    17. The Study Area Boundary Order contained new information 
collection requirements subject to the PRA, Public Law 104-13. The 
Bureau submitted a request for emergency PRA approval for this new data 
collection to the OMB in December 2012, 77 FR 75159-01, and OMB 
approved the Bureau's request on January 23, 2013, 78 FR 5750. The

[[Page 20799]]

emergency PRA approval expires on July 31, 2013. The Bureau will 
explain the modifications adopted in this Reconsideration Order when it 
submits its request for extension of the currently-approved collection 
to OMB. When that PRA request is published in the Federal Register, 
OMB, the general public, and other Federal agencies will be invited to 
comment on all aspects of the study area boundary information 
collection requirements.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    18. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 
the Commission prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) 
for the Study Area Boundary Order. In accordance with the RFA, the 
Bureau certifies that the modifications adopted herein ``will not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.'' The rules modified in this Reconsideration Order will 
reduce the burden on small entities relative to the impact of the rules 
adopted in the Study Area Boundary Order. The Bureau has eased the 
burden on small incumbent LECs by allowing state entities to certify to 
the accuracy of the data they (the states) submit, rather than 
requiring incumbent LECs to make the certification. The Bureau has also 
reduced the burden on small entities that are price cap carriers by 
allowing them the option to submit boundary data at the wire center 
rather than exchange level. The Commission will send a copy of this 
Reconsideration Order, including this certification, to the Chief 
Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

Ordering Clauses

    19. Pursuant to sections 1, 2, 4(i), 201-205, 218-220, 254, 256, 
303(r), and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 
U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 201-205, 218-220, 254, 303(r), and 403, and 
Sec. Sec.  0.91, 0.201(d), 0.291, and 1.427 of the Commission's rules, 
47 CFR 0.91, 0.201(d), 0.291, 1.427, and pursuant to the delegations of 
authority in paragraphs 157, 184, 187, 192, 217 of the USF/ICC 
Transformation Order, document DA 13-282 is adopted.
    20. Document DA 13-282 shall be effective upon publication in the 
Federal Register. The Bureau concludes that good cause exists to make 
the effective date of the modifications adopted in this Reconsideration 
Order effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register, 
pursuant to section 553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 
U.S.C. 553(d)(3). Agencies determining whether there is good cause to 
make a rule revision take effect less than 30 days after Federal 
Register publication must balance the necessity for immediate 
implementation against principles of fundamental fairness that require 
that all affected persons be afforded a reasonable time to prepare for 
the effective date of a new rule. The rules in the Study Area Boundary 
Order were duly published in the Federal Register and took effect on 
February 27, 2013. The changes adopted in this Reconsideration Order 
provide the affected parties with additional options for complying with 
the requirements in the Study Area Boundary Order. Given the need to 
collect this information and the lack of any additional burden imposed 
by this Reconsideration Order, there is good cause to make these 
amendments effective immediately upon Federal Register publication.
    21. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 
Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of document DA 13-282, 
to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.
    22. The Commission shall send a copy of document DA 13-282 to 
Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the 
Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

Federal Communications Commission.
Carol Mattey,
Deputy Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau.

Appendix--Specification for Study Area Boundary Submission

    1. General. Incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) or state 
commissions must submit study area boundaries in esri shapefile 
format. Incumbent LECs should submit each study area served in a 
separate shapefile. Since shapefiles typically consist of 3 to 9 
individual files, the shapefile for the study area should be 
submitted as a single, zipped file containing all of the component 
files. The shapefile and encapsulating zip file names must contain 
the company name and the 6-digit study area code. Shapefile 
templates are available at http://www/fcc/gpv/wcb/iatd/neca.html.
    2. State commissions may submit shapefiles comprised of multiple 
study areas, and may submit zip files that contain multiple study 
areas. The encapsulating zip file should contain the state name. 
Study area boundaries for rate-of-return carriers must be submitted 
at the exchange level, while study areas for price cap carriers can 
be submitted at the exchange or wire center level. The shapefile 
must contain one data record for each exchange or wire center within 
the study area. Each exchange or wire center should be represented 
as a closed, non-overlapping polygon with the associated feature 
attributes listed below in the accompanying metadata.
    3. In cases where a carrier or state submits price cap study 
areas at the wire center level, the shapefile must contain both a 
polygon representing the outer study area boundary as well as 
polygons representing the internal wire centers. In the attributes 
associated with the polygon representing the outer study area 
boundary, fields 4, 5, and 6 (in Section II.B below) can be left 
blank or null. In addition, the attributes associated with each wire 
center polygon should include the exchange name(s) associated with 
the wire center. If there are multiple exchanges, list them all in 
the field separated by a comma.
    4. After submitting the study area boundaries, an officer of the 
LEC, or an individual authorized by the state commission, must 
certify that the information provided is accurate and correct to the 
best of his/her knowledge, information, and belief, based the 
individual's or company's reasonable, good faith efforts.
    Note that submitted boundaries are public data and may be used 
in published FCC documents and Web pages.
    5. Shapefile. A shapefile template is available at http://transition.fcc.gov/wcb/iatd/neca.html. Submitted shapefiles must:

A. Contain one closed, non-overlapping polygon for each exchange or 
wire center in the study area. The polygon should represent the area 
served from that exchange or wire center
B. Have associated with each exchange or wire center polygon the 
following identifying feature attributes (or fields):
    1. OCN--NECA-assigned operating company number as in the LERG
    2. Company Name
    3. Boundary Type--Exchange, Wire Center, or Outer Study Area
    4. Exchange Name (If a price cap carrier or state commission is 
submitting wire center-level data, it should provide the name of the 
exchange associated with the wire center boundary.)
    5. Wire Center Name (leave blank if submitting exchange-level 
data)
    6. Was the Exchange acquired subject to section 54.305 of the 
Commission's rules?
    7. Study Area Code (6-digit)
    8. State
C. Have an assigned projection w/accompanying .prj file
D. Use unprojected (geographic) WGS84 geographic coordinate system
E. Conforming to 1:24K national mapping standards or have a minimum 
horizontal accuracy of +/- 40 feet or less
F. Be submitted as a WinZip archive with a name containing the 
company name and study area code (e.g., CompanyName--123456.zip).

    6. CLLI Codes. In conjunction with the shapefile attributes 
listed above, incumbent LECs or state entities should submit, within 
the zip file, a .csv file listing all of the 11-digit CLLI codes 
(for switches) associated with each exchange or wire center 
boundary. Because multiple CLLI codes can be associated with an 
exchange, it is easiest to capture these data in a separate table 
rather than include them in the shapefile attributes listed above. 
The .csv file should contain the three fields listed below, and each 
CLLI code should be listed in a separate row. This is a .csv file 
only; the locations of the switches

[[Page 20800]]

associated with the CLLI codes do not need to be mapped.
 Boundary Type--Exchange, Wire Center, or Outer Study Area
 Exchange or Wire Center Name
 CLLI Code (11-digit)
    7. Cover Page Information. In addition to the shapefile data 
described above, the Bureau also will collect electronically the 
following information:

A. Company Name
B. FRN (please use the FRN used for the 477 filing in the state)
C. Contact person name
D. Contact person address
E. Contact person phone number
F. Contact person email address
G. Date created/revised
H. Methodology--process steps to create the data
I. Certifying official name
J. Certifying official address
K. Certifying official phone number
L. Certifying official email address

[FR Doc. 2013-08030 Filed 4-5-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P