[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 71 (Friday, April 12, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 21891-21904]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-08527]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 64

[WC Docket No. 13-39; FCC 13-18]


Rural Call Completion

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Communications Commission proposes to adopt rules 
requiring facilities-based originating long distance providers to 
record and retain data on call completion rates to rural areas, and to 
report this data to the Commission on a quarterly basis. We propose to 
reduce or eliminate a provider's retention and reporting obligations if 
that provider certifies that it qualifies for one of two proposed safe 
harbor provisions. We also propose to prohibit both originating and 
intermediate providers from causing audible ringing to be sent to the 
caller before the terminating provider has signaled that the called 
party is being alerted. These changes will allow the Commission to more 
effectively determine the causes of call completion problems to rural 
areas and take action to cure them, and will also prevent consumer 
confusion caused by the injection of false ringtones before the called 
party has been alerted.

DATES: Submit comments on or before May 13, 2013.
    Submit reply comments on or before May 28, 2013.
    Written comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act proposed 
information collection requirements must be submitted by the public, 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and other interested parties on 
or before June 11, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by WC Docket No. 13-39, 
by any of the following methods:
    [ssquf] Federal Communications Commission's Web site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting 
comments.
    [ssquf] People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202-418-
0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.

In addition to filing comments with the Secretary, a copy of any 
comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act information collection 
requirements contained herein should be submitted to the Federal 
Communications Commission via email to PRA@fcc.gov and to Nicholas A. 
Fraser, Office of Management and Budget, via email to Nicholas_A._Fraser@omb.eop.gov or via fax at 202-395-5167.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steven Rowings, Competition Policy 
Division, Wireline Competition Bureau, at (202) 418-1033 or by email at 
steven.rowings@fcc.gov. To submit Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) 
comments, send an email to PRA@fcc.gov. For further information 
concerning the Paperwork Reduction Act information collection 
requirements contained in this document, contact Judith B. Herman, 202-
418-0214.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of 
the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may 
file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on 
the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the 
Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic 
Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
    [ssquf] Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
    [ssquf] Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file 
an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or 
rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.
    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial 
overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service 
mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, 
Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours 
are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together 
with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be 
disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.
     People with Disabilities: To request materials in 
accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, 
electronic files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or 
call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 
(voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).
    This document contains proposed information collection 
requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to 
reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection 
requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. Public and agency comments 
are due June 11, 2013.
    PRA comments should address whether the proposed collection of 
information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of 
the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical 
utility; the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimates; ways to 
enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; 
and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of

[[Page 21892]]

information on the respondents, including the use of automated 
collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and 
ways to further reduce the information burden for small business 
concerns with fewer than 25 employees.
    OMB Control Number: 3060-XXXX.
    Title: Rural Call Completion Recordkeeping and Reporting.
    Form No.: Not applicable.
    Type of Review: New Collection.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit; not-for-profit 
institutions; and State, Local or Tribal governments.
    Number of Respondents and Responses: 90 respondents, 360 annual 
responses.
    Estimated Time per Response: 16 hours.
    Frequency of Response: Quarterly reporting requirement and 
recordkeeping requirement.
    Obligation To Respond: Mandatory. Statutory authority is contained 
in sections 1, 2, 4(i), 201, 202, 218, 220(a), and 403 of the 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 
201, 202, 218, 220(a), and 403.
    Total Annual Burden: 5,760 hours.
    Total Annual Costs: $393,750.
    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: N/A.
    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: The Commission gives no 
assurances that information submitted in response to these proposed 
rules will be treated as confidential. Any information provided by 
parties to comply with these proposed rules may be submitted pursuant 
to a request for confidentiality under Sec.  0.459 of the Commission's 
rules. See 47 CFR 0.459.
    Needs and Uses: These proposed rules would require facilities-based 
originating long-distance voice service providers to collect data on 
call answer rates, and to report those data to the Commission on a 
quarterly basis. The information obtained through this collection will 
allow the Commission to monitor the performance of long-distance 
telephone service providers in order to more fully investigate the 
disparity in performance levels between long-distance calls to rural 
areas and those to nonrural areas, as well as to ensure that long-
distance providers are complying with their statutory obligations to 
provide just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory service throughout the 
nation.
    To request materials in accessible formats for people with 
disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format) or 
to request reasonable accommodations for filing comments (accessible 
format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.), send an 
email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs 
Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice) or 202-418-0432 (TTY).

Synopsis of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), we seek comment on 
rules to help address problems in the completion of long-distance 
telephone calls to rural customers.

I. Introduction

    1. Retail long-distance providers, such as wireless providers, 
cable companies, interexchange carriers (IXCs), local exchange carriers 
(LECs), and providers of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, 
often employ intermediate providers to carry long-distance calls to 
their destination. Some of these intermediate providers offering 
wholesale call delivery services may be failing to deliver a 
significant number of calls to rural telephone company customers, and 
evidence indicates that the retail long-distance providers may not be 
adequately examining the resultant rural call completion performance.
    2. Completion rates of long-distance calls to rural telephone 
company service areas are frequently poor, even where overall 
performance of the intermediate provider appears acceptable. The 
problems manifest themselves in lengthy periods of dead air on the 
calling party's end after dialing a number, audible ringing tones on 
the calling party's end when the called party's telephone never rings 
at all, false busy signals, inaccurate intercept messages, and the 
inability of one or both parties to hear the other when the call does 
go through. This causes rural businesses to lose customers, cuts 
families off from their relatives in rural areas, and creates potential 
for dangerous delays in public safety communications in rural areas.
    3. In this proceeding, we will consider measures to improve the 
Commission's ability to monitor the delivery of long-distance calls to 
rural areas and aid enforcement action in connection with providers' 
call-completion practices as necessary. We seek comment on reporting 
and data retention requirements that would allow the Commission to 
review a long distance provider's call performance to specific areas. 
These measures would strengthen the Commission's ability to ensure a 
reasonable and nondiscriminatory level of service to rural areas. We 
also seek comment on how to minimize the burden of compliance with 
these proposed rules, particularly for originating providers whose 
call-routing practices do not appear to cause significant call-
completion problems.

II. Background

    4. In filings with the Commission and in presentations at the 
Commission's October 18, 2011 workshop on rural call routing and 
termination problems, several entities identified a number of rural 
call completion issues and asked the Commission to address them 
promptly. Trade associations that represent rate-of-return carriers 
(collectively, ``rural associations'') and several state utility 
commissions describe the call-termination issues affecting rural areas 
as serious and widespread. They emphasize that the inability of 
businesses, consumers, and government officials to receive calls 
compromises the integrity and reliability of the public switched 
telephone network (PSTN) and threatens the public safety, homeland 
security, consumer welfare, and economic well-being of rural America. 
These entities claim that call-termination problems continue to 
increase and that the result is the ``effective disconnection of rural 
consumers from many other parts of the PSTN.''
    5. As evidence of the problem, rural associations report that rate-
of-return carriers serving rural areas are reporting an alarming 
increase in complaints from their customers stating that long-distance 
calls and faxes are not reaching them or that call quality is poor. 
Indeed, these rural associations state that 80 percent of rural 
carriers responding to one survey reported problems, and rural customer 
reports of problems receiving calls increased by more than 2000 percent 
in the twelve-month period from April 2010 to March 2011. In May 2012, 
the rural associations conducted a second call-completion study based 
on over 7400 call attempts and reported that, while there was some 
improvement in rural areas from 2011 to 2012, the incompletion rate in 
rural areas was still 13 times higher in rural areas than in nonrural 
areas. In November 2012, a third survey of rural carriers indicated 
that the problems with completing calls to rural areas were continuing 
at an alarming rate.
    6. Call completion problems appear to occur particularly in rural 
areas served by rate-of-return carriers, where the costs that long-
distance providers incur to complete calls are generally higher than in 
nonrural areas. To minimize call termination charges, long-distance 
providers often use intermediate providers that offer to deliver calls 
to specified terminating providers at comparatively low cost, usually 
within

[[Page 21893]]

defined service quality parameters. Rural associations suggest that the 
call-completion problems may arise from the manner in which originating 
providers set up the signaling and routing of their calls, and that 
many of these call routing and termination problems can be attributed 
to intermediate providers.
    7. Previous Commission Actions. The Commission has stated that 
carriers are prohibited from blocking, choking, reducing, or 
restricting traffic in any way, including to avoid termination charges. 
Noting that the ubiquity and reliability of the nation's 
telecommunications network is of paramount importance to the explicit 
goals of the Act, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) issued a 
declaratory ruling in 2007 to clarify that no carriers, including 
interexchange carriers, may block, choke, reduce, or restrict traffic 
in any way.
    8. In September 2011, the Commission created the Rural Call 
Completion Task Force to address and investigate the growing problems 
associated with calls to rural customers. On October 18, 2011, the Task 
Force held a workshop to identify specific causes of the problem and 
discuss potential solutions with key stakeholders.
    9. In its November 2011 Order reforming intercarrier compensation 
and the Universal Service Fund, the Commission again emphasized its 
longstanding prohibition on call blocking. The Commission reiterated 
that call blocking has the potential to degrade the reliability of the 
nation's telecommunications network and that call blocking harms 
consumers. The Commission also made clear that the general prohibition 
on call blocking by carriers applies to VoIP-PSTN traffic. Finally, the 
Commission prohibited call blocking by providers of interconnected VoIP 
services and providers of ``one-way'' VoIP services.
    10. In February 2012, the Wireline Competition Bureau issued a 
declaratory ruling to clarify the scope of the Commission's prohibition 
on blocking, choking, reducing, or restricting telephone traffic in 
response to continued complaints about rural call completion issues 
from rural associations, state utility commissions, and consumers. The 
2012 Declaratory Ruling made clear that rural call routing practices 
that lead to call termination and quality problems may violate the 
prohibition against unjust and unreasonable practices in section 201 of 
the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act) or may violate the 
carriers' section 202 duty to refrain from unjust or unreasonable 
discrimination in practices, facilities, or services. The 2012 
Declaratory Ruling also noted that carriers may be subject to liability 
under section 217 of the Act for the actions of their agents or other 
persons acting for or employed by the carriers. The Bureau stated that 
the practices causing rural call completion problems ``adversely affect 
the ubiquity and reliability of the nation's telecommunications network 
and threaten commerce, public safety, and the ability of consumers, 
businesses, and public health and safety officials in rural America to 
access and use a reliable network.''
    11. In addition to conducting ongoing investigations of several 
long-distance providers, the Commission has also been addressing daily 
operational problems reported by rural customers and carriers so that 
incoming long-distance calling to rural telephone company customers is 
promptly restored. We have established dedicated avenues for rural 
customers and carriers to inform the Commission about these call 
completion problems. A web-based complaint intake focuses on the rural 
call completion problems of residential and business customers, 
instructs them on how to file complaints with the Commission, and links 
to the Commission's standard 2000B complaint form. A dedicated email 
intake expedites the ability of rural telephone companies to alert the 
Commission of systemic problems receiving the calls from a particular 
originating long-distance provider and facilitates provider-to-provider 
resolution.
    12. Other Actions. In December 2012, the Oregon Public Utilities 
Commission adopted additional Conditions of Certificates of Authority 
requiring a certificate holder to take reasonable steps to ensure that 
it does not adopt or perpetuate intrastate routing practices that 
result in lower-quality service to an exchange with higher terminating 
access rates.

III. Discussion

    13. There is ample evidence that rural call completion problems are 
widespread and serious. We are dedicated to ensuring that all Americans 
receive high-quality telephone service. Although the Commission has 
stated unequivocally that traffic may not be blocked, choked, reduced, 
or restricted, we have learned that carriers often do not retain 
records that permit the Commission to determine compliance with these 
prohibitions. To that end, in this NPRM we propose rules that would 
help the Commission monitor originating providers' call-completion 
performance and ensure that telephone service to rural consumers is as 
reliable as service to the rest of the country. In essence, these 
proposed rules would require facilities-based originating long-distance 
voice service providers to collect and report to the Commission data on 
call answer rates. For purposes of this Notice, originating long-
distance voice service providers include local exchange carriers, 
interexchange carriers, commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) 
providers, and interconnected VoIP service providers. We seek comment 
on whether these proposed rules should apply to other categories of 
providers as well, such as one-way VoIP service providers, and on the 
Commission's authority to extend these proposed rules to such 
providers. We also welcome data explaining why call answer rates might 
differ between rural and nonrural areas and why any differential may be 
reasonable.
    14. We also propose a rule that would prohibit both originating 
providers and intermediate providers from causing audible ringing to be 
sent to the caller before the terminating provider has signaled that 
the called party is being alerted. We seek comment on whether these 
proposed rules will help alleviate rural call completion problems, or 
whether the Commission should consider different approaches, and, if 
so, what those approaches are.
    15. We recognize that even when calls to rural areas in particular 
do get answered, the communications quality of the call may be so poor 
as to render the communication between the calling and called parties 
unsuccessful. While we do not propose call communications quality 
standards at this time, we will continue to monitor the problem, and we 
may revisit the issue in the future if improvements in call answer 
rates and signaling integrity do not result in concomitant improvements 
in call communications quality.

A. Data Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Retention

    16. Our processing of informal complaints that have been filed with 
the Commission concerning rural call completion problems indicates that 
some originating long-distance providers collect and retain the call 
history data that support detection of problems with calls to rural 
areas. However, we have also found that some long-distance providers do 
not collect and retain information on failed call attempts that is 
necessary for segregating the percentage of calls failing to complete 
to rural areas from all calls being carried to all destinations. As a 
result, some long-distance providers appear unable to analyze rural

[[Page 21894]]

call performance relative to overall performance or to distinguish the 
performance of intermediate providers in delivering calls to rural 
areas. Additionally, this lack of data has impeded Enforcement Bureau 
investigations.
    17. Consequently, subject to certain limitations and safe harbors 
discussed below, we propose to adopt rules that would require 
facilities-based originating long-distance voice service providers to 
collect and retain basic information on call attempts and to 
periodically undertake a basic call completion summary analysis and 
report the results to the Commission. If the originating long-distance 
voice service provider is not facilities based, we propose to apply 
these obligations to the first facilities-based provider in the call-
delivery chain, because the facilities-based provider will have access 
to the inaugural call detail information.
    18. Below, we seek comment on our proposed rules, the types of 
carriers and providers to be covered by these rules, the general 
categories of call attempts covered, the types of calls that should be 
excluded, the information to be collected on each call attempt covered, 
and the length of time such information should be retained. We also 
seek comment on possible safe harbors that would relieve providers of 
reporting obligations and reduce their record retention requirements.
    19. Our authority for these reporting, record keeping, and 
retention rules lies in sections 201(b) and 202(a) of the Act: call 
routing practices that lead to rural call termination and quality 
problems may violate the prohibition against unjust and unreasonable 
practices in section 201(b), or may violate carriers' duty under 
section 202(a) to refrain from unjust or unreasonable discrimination in 
practices, facilities, or services. Sections 218, 220(a), and 403 of 
the Act provide additional authority for these proposed rules with 
regard to carriers. To the extent that these proposed rules would apply 
to VoIP providers, we propose to exercise our ancillary authority to 
the extent that VoIP services are information services, on the ground 
that such requirements would be necessary for the Commission to carry 
out its section 201(b) and 202(a) obligations with regard to carriers. 
We seek comment on this analysis and any additional sources of possible 
authority, such as section 403.
1. Proposed Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Retention Requirements
    20. Reporting Requirements. We propose to adopt a rule requiring 
that facilities-based originating long-distance providers measure the 
call answer rate for each rural operating company number (OCN) to which 
100 or more calls were attempted during the calendar month for the 
categories of call attempts identified below, and that originating 
long-distance providers also measure the overall call answer rate for 
nonrural call attempts. We propose to adopt a rule requiring that 
originating long-distance providers submit in electronic form the 
monthly call answer rate for rural OCNs with 100 attempts or more and 
the nonrural monthly overall average to the Commission once per 
calendar quarter. The data collection and reporting requirements that 
we propose would allow the Commission to compare an originating 
provider's performance in delivering interstate and intrastate long-
distance calls to rural local exchanges versus nonrural local 
exchanges. We believe that it is necessary to measure performance at 
the individual rural telephone company level, as identified by the OCN, 
to ensure that poor performance to any individual rural telephone 
company is not masked, as it otherwise would be by averaging together 
calls to all rural telephone companies or averaging call data for rural 
and nonrural areas.
    21. We seek comment on our proposed reporting requirements. Is the 
proposed 100 call per month threshold appropriate or, for example, 
should the threshold be tied to a provider's overall number of call 
attempts, such as a percentage of overall call attempts? Should all 
call attempts be included, or just those attempted in some peak period 
such as between noon and 6:00 p.m. Eastern time? Are the proposed 
monthly measurement and quarterly reporting intervals appropriate? For 
example, is the nature of chronic call routing failures such that 
measurement data analyzed monthly masks problems that a weekly 
measurement would capture? If the Commission adopts quarterly reporting 
requirements, on what dates should they be filed? We seek comment on 
the benefits and burdens associated with our proposed reporting 
requirements. We seek comment on whether the information that will be 
provided should be treated as confidential or be open to public 
inspection.
    22. Record Keeping and Retention. We propose to adopt a rule 
requiring that providers record information for each long-distance call 
attempt they handle. We propose that, in addition to calling party 
number, called party number, and date and time, the information 
recorded on each call attempt include: (1) Whether the call attempt was 
handed off to an intermediate provider and, if so, which intermediate 
provider; (2) whether the call attempt was going to a rural carrier 
and, if so, which rural carrier as identified by its OCN; (3) whether 
the call attempt was interstate; and (4) whether the call attempt was 
answered. We propose that providers be required to retain these call 
attempt records in a readily retrievable form for a period that 
includes the six most recent complete calendar months.
    23. We seek comment on our proposed record-keeping and record-
retention requirements. We also seek comment generally on the long-
distance records and data that originating providers currently collect 
in the normal course of business, and to what extent they already (1) 
capture and (2) retain the information proposed. For example, do 
originating providers typically retain the information we propose to be 
retained on each call attempt, including on failed attempts? We seek 
comment on the benefits and burdens associated with collecting and 
retaining information as described above that is additional to 
currently collected information. We seek comment on whether recording 
and retaining a statistically valid sample of data could fulfill the 
purposes of data retention and provide the basis for the required 
reporting while being less burdensome. Would a statistical sample 
support enforcement action in connection with a provider's call-
completion practices?
    24. Entities Covered By Proposed Rules. As noted above, we propose 
to adopt a rule requiring that if the originating provider is not 
facilities based, the record-keeping, retention, and reporting 
requirements proposed in this NPRM would apply to the first facilities-
based provider that is involved in handling the call. In cases where 
the first facilities-based provider serves multiple non-facilities-
based originating providers, the facilities-based provider should 
aggregate the call attempt information for all such non-facilities-
based providers into a single report. We seek comment on this proposal. 
Does limiting these proposed requirements to facilities-based providers 
ensure that the rules apply to the entity with the most direct access 
to call records, thus minimizing the burden of compliance? Should the 
Commission also impose record-keeping and reporting requirements on 
intermediate providers? If so, what types of record-keeping and 
reporting requirements? Would the burden of compliance be lower for 
intermediate providers that also provide originating service to end 
users? We seek comment generally on

[[Page 21895]]

the benefits and burdens associated with limiting our proposed 
requirements to facilities-based providers.
    25. Categories of Call Attempts. For purposes of this rulemaking, 
we propose to categorize long-distance call attempts according to call 
source type and terminating provider type. With respect to call source 
type, the provider subject to these proposed rules will be either a 
facilities-based originating long-distance voice service provider or, 
if the originating provider is not facilities based, the first 
facilities-based long distance service provider in the call-completion 
chain. We propose that data collection requirements cover, at a 
minimum, the following source-termination categories of long-distance 
call traffic: originating provider to rural telephone company 
(including rural CLEC), originating provider to nonrural LEC (including 
nonrural CLEC), first facilities-based provider to rural telephone 
company (including rural CLEC), and first facilities-based provider to 
nonrural LEC (including nonrural CLEC). We seek comment on whether 
other categories of calls should also be covered, such as calls to CMRS 
subscribers, which do not normally incur high termination access 
charges on termination in rural areas and have not been the subject of 
the same types of complaints as calls to rural telephone companies.
    26. We seek comment on whether these proposed categories are both 
necessary and sufficient for purposes of the data retention and 
reporting described above. For example, should some subcategories, such 
as traffic to nonrural CLECs, be excluded? We note that some providers 
may handle substantial amounts of auto-dialer traffic on behalf of 
retail business customers who may have call completion expectations and 
capacity requirements that are different from those of residential and 
business callers. Can such auto-dialer traffic sources be reliably 
identified, and if so, should auto-dialer call attempts be excluded 
from traffic sources? Our principal objective is to compare a 
provider's rural and nonrural performance. Is it thus reasonable to 
require providers that can identify and exclude auto-dialer traffic to 
do so, even if other providers may not be able to do so? We are aware 
that auto-dialers are also used to distribute emergency alert 
notifications, including across some rural areas. Can emergency auto-
dialer sources be reliably identified, and if so, can and should 
emergency auto-dialer traffic be included even if other auto-dialer 
traffic is excluded?
    27. Call Attempts That Can Be Excluded. We propose to use a ``call 
answer rate'' as the basic measure of call completion performance. An 
``answered call attempt'' means a call attempt that is answered by the 
called party, including, for example, by voicemail, answering machine, 
or fax machine. We calculate a call answer rate as ``the number of call 
attempts that result in an answer divided by the total number of calls 
attempted, expressed as a percentage.'' In the following paragraphs, we 
propose the types of call attempts to be included and excluded when 
calculating the call answer rate.
    28. In the typical arrangement, an intermediate provider must hand 
a call back to the upstream provider if it cannot expeditiously hand 
off the call attempt downstream, e.g., to the terminating provider. 
This is so the upstream provider can attempt to complete the call using 
another intermediate provider or over its own facilities. In order to 
avoid double-counting such multiple attempts for the same call, we 
propose that call attempts that are handed back to the upstream 
provider should be excluded from data collection and reporting 
requirements. We seek comment on whether it is feasible and appropriate 
to exclude such call attempts in view of the reporting objective.
    29. When a terminating provider is successful or unsuccessful in 
completing a call, it signals a ``cause value'' giving a precise 
indication of the event. Cause values can be classified into three 
general categories indicating the nature or origin of the event: Call 
Completed, User, and Network. One commonly occurring ``User'' cause is 
``unallocated number'' (cause value 0), which indicates that the caller 
has dialed a properly formatted telephone number, but that number 
itself is not assigned. Excluding all call attempts indicating that the 
user apparently misdialed could mask call attempts that actually failed 
or were dropped within an intermediate provider's network, because 
there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that calling parties sometimes 
receive intercept messages that wrongly indicate, for example, that the 
call cannot be completed as dialed. We thus propose that all call 
attempts to an ``unallocated number'' be retained. We seek comment on 
this proposal. Similarly, we have anecdotal evidence that other 
``User'' events, such as ``user busy,'' ``no user responding'' (i.e., 
ring no answer) or ``number changed,'' which should be signaled only by 
the terminating provider, are sometimes being signaled by intermediate 
providers. Consequently, the most reliable measure is whether the call 
attempt is actually answered (``call completed'' cause values 16 and 
31); excluding call attempts indicating apparent user behavior such as 
``user busy'' or ``user not responding'' could mask call attempts that 
actually failed or were dropped within an intermediate provider's 
network. Thus we propose that any call attempt not answered and showing 
a ``User'' category release cause code should be included in the total 
of call attempts. We seek comment on this proposal.
    30. We seek comment on other types of long-distance call attempts 
that should be excluded from the categories of call attempts covered. 
For example, can calls to toll-free numbers be reliably excluded? 
Should answered calls of very short duration, such as less than two 
seconds, be excluded? Are there internal network test calls that are 
readily identifiable and easily excluded?
2. Proposed Limitations on Application of Reporting and Retention Rules
    31. In order to lessen the burden of compliance with these proposed 
rules, we propose to require only those originating long-distance 
providers and other covered providers with more than 100,000 retail 
long-distance subscribers (business or residential) to retain the basic 
information on call attempts and to periodically report the summary 
analysis of that information to the Commission. We seek comment on this 
proposal. Would the exclusion of smaller providers compromise the 
Commission's ability to monitor rural call completion problems 
effectively?
    32. We also propose two safe harbors by which providers can avoid 
or reduce their obligations under the data reporting and retention 
obligations that we propose in this NPRM. The purpose of these safe 
harbors is to minimize the burden of compliance without compromising 
the goals of these rules. We seek comment on the proposed safe harbors, 
and whether they should include safeguards to ensure that providers' 
call-completion performance does not suffer. For example, should we 
delegate to the Wireline Competition Bureau authority to revoke a 
provider's eligibility for these safe harbors if the Commission 
receives a certain number of complaints about that provider's call-
completion performance? If so, what would be an appropriate number of 
complaints or other trigger to justify revoking eligibility for the 
safe harbors?
    33. Managing Intermediate Provider Safe Harbor. Our first proposed 
safe harbor would relieve a provider of all call completion data 
retention and reporting obligations proposed in this

[[Page 21896]]

NPRM. To qualify for this safe harbor, a provider must certify on an 
annual basis that it restricts by contract directly connected 
intermediate providers to no more than one additional intermediate 
provider in the call path before the call reaches the terminating 
provider. The provider must further certify that any nondisclosure 
agreement with an intermediate provider permits the originating 
provider to reveal the identity of the intermediate provider to the 
Commission and to the rural carrier(s) whose incoming long-distance 
calls are affected by the intermediate provider's performance. Finally, 
the provider must certify that it has a process in place to monitor the 
performance of its intermediate providers in completing calls to 
individual rural telephone companies as identified by Operating Carrier 
Number.
    34. We seek comment on this proposed safe harbor. For example, will 
restricting the number of intermediate providers in the call path from 
a retail customer improve the originating provider's control 
sufficiently to maintain rural call answer rates that are on par with 
nonrural rates? Is the restriction to no more than two intermediate 
providers between the originating provider and the terminating provider 
the appropriate number? Will providing the identity of the intermediate 
provider that is affecting the incoming long-distance calls assist the 
terminating rural provider in troubleshooting with other originating 
providers?
    35. Monitoring Performance Safe Harbor. Our second proposed safe 
harbor would subject a provider to a reduced call-completion data 
retention obligation and relieve the provider of all reporting 
obligations proposed in this Notice. To qualify for this safe harbor, a 
provider must certify on an annual basis that for each of the previous 
12 months, it has met the following performance standard: the average 
call answer rate for all rural carriers to which the provider attempted 
more than 100 calls in a month was no more than 2 percent less than the 
average call answer rate for all calls it placed to nonrural carriers 
in the same month, and the call answer rates for 95 percent of those 
rural carriers to which the provider attempted more than 100 calls were 
no more than 3 percent below the average rural call answer rate. 
Finally, the provider must certify that it has a process in place to 
investigate its performance in completing calls to individual rural 
telephone companies (as identified by Operating Carrier Number) for 
which the call answer rate is more than 3 percent below the average of 
the rural call answer rate for all rural telephone companies to which 
it attempted more than 100 calls. Providers that certify compliance 
with this safe harbor would be relieved of any quarterly reporting 
obligation and would be required to retain call attempt data in readily 
retrievable form for a reduced period of three months.
    36. We seek comment on this proposed safe harbor. Are these 
proposed thresholds reasonable and appropriate? Are calls to business 
customers more likely to be answered than calls to residential 
customers, and is the percentage of calls to business customers in 
nonrural area higher than in rural areas such that a call answer rate 
differential is appropriate, and if so, are the differentials proposed 
above reasonable? Is the nature of chronic call routing failures such 
that measurement data analyzed monthly masks significant problems? 
Would it be more appropriate to set a threshold based on weekly or 
other measurements? Is three months of past information sufficient if 
any investigation of rural call completion or service quality issues is 
deemed necessary, notwithstanding that a particular type of safe harbor 
certification has been made?
3. Duration of Proposed Reporting and Retention Rules
    37. In the USF/ICC Transformation Order, the Commission adopted 
rules that may ultimately address the root causes of many rural call 
completion problems. In particular, in comprehensively reforming 
intercarrier compensation, the Commission adopted a bill-and-keep 
methodology for all intercarrier traffic, and adopted a transition plan 
to gradually reduce most termination charges, which, at the end of the 
transition, should eliminate the primary incentives for cost-saving 
practices that appear to be undermining the reliability of rural 
telephone service.
    38. NARUC has argued, and we agree, that there is a need to limit 
the harmful effect of these rural call completion problems on consumers 
in the near term. Accordingly, we propose these rules to provide prompt 
relief to rural consumers who are receiving inferior telephone service. 
We seek comment, however, on whether the rules we propose today should 
expire at the end of the intercarrier compensation reform transition 
period or some other point. Would a sunset provision reduce the burden 
of compliance? Would rural consumers be sufficiently protected from 
call completion problems if the rules expire at that time? If not, we 
seek comment on alternative sunset dates, or whether the requirements 
should remain in effect until the Commission modifies the relevant 
rules.

B. Proposed Ring Signaling Integrity Requirements

    39. A major complaint by rural representatives regarding call 
termination problems is ``false audible ringing,'' in which the long-
distance caller hears prolonged ringing--and so finally hangs up--
before the rural phone he called has rung at all. This appears to be 
relatively new as a widespread phenomenon, and is brought about when 
the originating provider or an intermediate provider prematurely 
triggers the audible ring tone to the caller before the call setup 
request has actually reached the terminating rural provider. An 
originating provider or intermediate provider may do this to mask the 
silence that would otherwise be heard by the caller during excessive 
call setup time. Moreover, once an intermediate provider provides a 
ringing indication to an originating provider while still processing 
the call, the call cannot be handed back to the preceding provider for 
an alternate route.
    40. This premature audible ringing departs from the long-
established telephony signaling practice (and end-user expectation) of 
audible ringing indication being provided to the caller only after the 
terminating provider affirmatively signals that the called line is free 
and the called party is being alerted. The net effect of this practice 
is to unfairly make it appear to the caller that the terminating rural 
provider is responsible for the call failure, instead of the 
originating provider. Complaints filed with the Commission indicate 
that this misperception is often shared by the rural called party, who 
may eventually hear his phone ringing and answer after the calling 
party has finally hung up.
    41. The decision by some providers to deviate from traditional 
industry practice is likely to harm consumers in rural areas. We 
therefore propose a new rule that would prohibit both originating 
providers and intermediate providers from causing audible ringing to be 
sent to the caller before the terminating provider has signaled that 
the called party is being alerted. Originating providers and 
intermediate providers must also convey audio tones and announcements 
sent by the terminating provider to the calling party. This proposal 
would codify a widely accepted industry practice that has in the past 
proven effective. We expect that the proposed rule will improve the 
ability to identify the provider responsible for service failures,

[[Page 21897]]

without imposing unduly burdensome costs.
    42. Our authority for this ring signaling integrity rule lies in 
section 201(b) of the Act: it is an unreasonable practice to send 
misleading ring sounds to customers making long-distance phone calls, 
as it may cause them to believe that the called party is not answering 
when in fact the call has not yet been connected or has been connected 
for a shorter time than the ring sounds would lead the calling party to 
believe. To the extent that this proposed rule would apply to VoIP 
providers, we propose to exercise our ancillary authority to the extent 
that VoIP services are information services, on the ground that such 
requirements would be necessary for the Commission to carry out its 
section 201(b) obligations with regard to carriers. We seek comment on 
this analysis and any additional sources of possible authority.
    43. We invite comment on this proposed rule and on whether it is 
consistent with prior telephony industry practice and telephone user 
expectation with respect to the meaning of audible ringing. We seek 
comment on whether the proposed rule is consistent with recommended 
industry practice for TDM- and IP-based telephony interworking. We seek 
comment on the benefits and burdens associated with this proposed rule. 
We also seek comment on the need to extend these requirements to non-
interconnected VoIP providers and on the Commission's authority to do 
so. Finally, we seek comment on whether, for technical reasons, any 
aspect of this proposed rule should be applied differently to 
originating CMRS carriers.

IV. Procedural Matters

A. Paperwork Reduction Act

    44. This document contains proposed new information collection 
requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to 
reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection 
requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In addition, pursuant to the 
Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 
U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), we seek specific comment on how we might ``further 
reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns 
with fewer than 25 employees.''

B. Regulatory Flexibility

    45. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended, the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (IRFA) for this notice of proposed rulemaking, of the possible 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
by the policies and rules proposed in this notice of proposed 
rulemaking. Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. 
Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed 
by the deadlines for comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking. The 
Commission will send a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking, 
including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA. In 
addition, the notice of proposed rulemaking and IRFA (or summaries 
thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.

C. Ex Parte Presentations

    46. The proceeding this NPRM initiates shall be treated as a 
``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with the Commission's 
ex parte rules. Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy 
of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral 
presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a 
different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons 
making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda 
summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or 
otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte 
presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and 
arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted 
in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already 
reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda or other 
filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such 
data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other 
filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where 
such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the 
memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex 
parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must 
be filed consistent with Sec.  1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by 
Sec.  1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method 
of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda 
summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, 
must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available 
for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., 
.doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding 
should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
    1. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities by the policies and rules 
proposed in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Written comments 
are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to 
the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the NPRM. 
The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including this IRFA, to 
the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration 
(SBA). In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be 
published in the Federal Register.

A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    2. The NPRM seeks comment on a variety of issues relating to 
possible remedies for the problem of low call completion rates and poor 
overall call quality to rural America. As discussed in the NPRM, the 
proposed rules will provide an incentive for originating long distance 
providers to more closely monitor their call completion performance in 
rural areas and more actively manage their dealings with intermediate 
providers, while also providing more clarity to consumers in 
identifying the carriers responsible for call completion and quality 
problems. The ubiquity and reliability of the nation's 
telecommunications network are of paramount importance to the 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and problems adversely 
affecting that ubiquity and reliability threaten commerce, public 
safety, and the ability of consumers, businesses, and public health and 
safety officials in rural America to access and use a reliable network. 
In order to confront these challenges, the NPRM asks for comment in a 
number of specific areas.
1. Data Reporting and Retention Requirements
    3. The NPRM first proposes that facilities-based originating long-
distance voice service providers collect and

[[Page 21898]]

retain basic information on call attempts and report to the Commission 
data on call answer rates. The NPRM proposes that originating long-
distance voice service providers include local exchange carriers, 
interexchange carriers, commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) 
providers, and interconnected VoIP service providers, and seeks comment 
on whether these proposed requirements should apply to other categories 
of providers, such as one-way VoIP service providers, and on the 
Commission's authority to extend the proposed rules to such providers. 
The NPRM proposes to apply these obligations to the first facilities-
based provider in the call-delivery chain when the originating long-
distance voice service provider is not facilities based. The NPRM also 
seeks comment offering data to explain any differential in call answer 
rates between rural and nonrural areas, and why such a differential may 
be reasonable.
    4. Specifically, the NPRM proposes to adopt a rule requiring that 
facilities-based originating long-distance providers measure the call 
answer rate for each rural operating company number (OCN) to which 100 
or more calls are attempted in a calendar month, as well as the overall 
call answer rate for nonrural call attempts, and to retain those 
records for a period including the six most recent complete calendar 
months. The NPRM seeks comment on these proposed requirements, 
including whether and to what extent originating providers collect and 
retain these sorts of call attempt records in the ordinary course of 
business, as well as on the benefits and burdens these data collection 
and retention requirements might produce.
    5. The NPRM further proposes to adopt a rule requiring that 
originating long-distance providers report to the Commission the 
monthly call answer rate for rural OCNs with 100 attempts or more and 
the nonrural monthly overall average call answer rate once per calendar 
quarter in order that the Commission can compare an originating 
provider's performance in delivering interstate and intrastate long-
distance calls to rural local exchanges versus nonrural local 
exchanges. The NPRM seeks comment on this reporting requirement, 
including whether the 100-call per month threshold is appropriate and 
whether a weekly reporting requirement would provide more useful data 
than the proposed monthly requirement, the benefits and burdens the 
proposed reporting requirements might produce, and whether the 
information reported should be treated as confidential or open to 
public inspection.
    6. The NPRM also seeks comment on application of the proposed 
rules, if the originating provider is not facilities based, to the 
first facilities-based provider in the call chain. The NPRM seeks 
comment on whether limiting the proposed requirements to facilities-
based providers ensures that the entities collecting and reporting this 
data are those with the most direct access to call records, thus 
minimizing the burden of compliance. The NPRM also seeks comment on 
whether the proposed rules, or some variation thereof, should also be 
applied to intermediate providers and whether the burden of compliance 
would be lower for intermediate providers that also provide originating 
service to end users. The NPRM seeks comment on the burdens and 
benefits associated with limiting the application of the proposed rules 
to facilities-based providers.
    7. The NPRM proposes to adopt a rule requiring that providers 
record information for each long-distance call attempt they handle. In 
addition to calling party number, called party number, date and time, 
the NPRM proposes that the information recorded on each call attempt 
include: (1) Whether the call attempt was handed off to an intermediate 
provider and, if so, which intermediate provider; (2) whether the call 
attempt was going to a rural carrier and, if so, which rural carrier as 
identified by its OCN; (3) whether the call attempt was interstate; and 
(4) whether the call attempt was answered. The NPRM proposes that 
providers be required to retain these call attempt records in a readily 
retrievable form for a period that includes the six most recent 
complete calendar months. The NPRM seeks comment on these proposed 
record-keeping and record retention requirements, on what long-distance 
records and data that originating providers currently collect in the 
normal course of business, and on the benefits and burdens associated 
with collecting and retaining the information proposed.
    8. The NPRM proposes to categorize long-distance call attempts 
according to call source type and terminating provider type. These 
proposed source-termination categories of long-distance call traffic 
include, at a minimum: originating provider to rural telephone company 
(including rural CLEC), originating provider to nonrural LEC (including 
nonrural CLEC), first facilities-based provider to rural telephone 
company (including rural CLEC), and first facilities-based provider to 
nonrural LEC (including nonrural CLEC). The NPRM seeks comment on 
whether these categories of call attempts are sufficient for the 
proposed rules, and also asks whether other categories of calls should 
be included, such as calls to CMRS subscribers.
    9. The NRPM proposes to exclude from the proposed data collection 
and reporting requirements call attempts that are handed back to an 
upstream provider for further attempts at completion in order to avoid 
double-counting such multiple attempts for the same call. The NPRM 
seeks comment on this proposal. The NPRM also proposed to include in 
the data collection and reporting requirements all call attempts not 
answered that show a ``User'' category release cause code in response 
to concerns that excluding such call attempts could mask call attempts 
that actually failed or were dropped within an intermediate provider's 
network. The NPRM seeks comment on the appropriateness and efficacy of 
these proposals, and on whether other types of long-distance call 
attempts should be excluded.
2. Proposed Limitations on Application of Reporting and Retention Rules
    10. The NPRM proposes to apply these reporting and retention 
requirements only to covered providers with more than 100,000 retail 
long-distance subscribers (business or residential) in order to reduce 
the burden of compliance with the proposed rules. It seeks comment on 
this proposal, and on whether the exclusion of smaller providers would 
compromise the Commission's ability to effectively monitor rural call 
completion problems.
    11. The NPRM also proposes two safe harbors by which covered 
providers can avoid or reduce their reporting and retention obligations 
under the proposed rules in order to minimize the burden of compliance 
without compromising the goals of the proposed rules. The NPRM seeks 
comment on the proposed safe harbors, whether the proposed safe harbors 
will achieve that purpose, and whether the safe harbors should include 
safeguards to ensure that providers' call-completion performance does 
not suffer. The NPRM seeks comment on whether the Commission should 
delegate authority to the Wireline Competition Bureau to revoke a 
provider's eligibility for these safe harbors if the Commission 
receives a certain number of complaints about that provider's call-
completion performance.
    12. The NPRM proposes in the first safe harbor to relieve a covered 
provider of the proposed reporting and data retention requirements if 
it certifies

[[Page 21899]]

annually that it restricts by contract directly connected intermediate 
providers to no more than one additional intermediate provider in the 
call path before the call reaches the terminating provider. This 
proposed safe harbor also requires a provider to certify that any 
nondisclosure agreement with an intermediate provider permits the 
originating provider to reveal the intermediate provider's identity to 
the Commission and to any rural carrier whose incoming long-distance 
traffic is affected by the intermediate provider's performance. 
Finally, the first proposed safe harbor requires the covered provider 
to certify that it has a process in place to monitor the performance of 
its intermediate providers in completing calls to individual rural 
telephone companies as identified by Operating Carrier Number.
    13. The NRPM seeks comment on this proposed safe harbor, including 
whether restricting the number of intermediate providers in the call 
path from a retail customer will improve the originating provider's 
control sufficiently to maintain rural call answer rates that are on 
par with nonrural rates, whether the restriction to no more than two 
intermediate providers between the originating provider and the 
terminating provider is the appropriate number, and whether disclosing 
the identity of the intermediate provider will allow originating and 
terminating providers to troubleshoot more effectively.
    14. The NRPM proposes in the second safe harbor to reduce to three 
months a covered provider's record retention obligations and eliminate 
its reporting obligations if it certifies annually that for each of the 
preceding 12 months: (1) its average call answer rate for all rural 
carriers to which the provider attempted more than 100 calls in a month 
was no more than 2 percent less than the average call answer rate for 
all calls it placed to nonrural carriers in the same month; and (2) the 
call answer rates for 95 percent of those rural carriers to which it 
attempted more than 100 calls were no more than 3 percent below the 
average rural call answer rate. The provider must also certify that it 
has a process in place to investigate its performance in completing 
calls to individual rural telephone companies (as identified by 
Operating Carrier Number) for which the call answer rate is more than 3 
percent below the average of the rural call answer rate for all rural 
telephone companies to which it attempted more than 100 calls.
    15. The NPRM seeks comment on this second proposed safe harbor, 
including whether the second proposed safe harbor's proposed thresholds 
are reasonable and appropriate, whether the safe harbor should make 
some allowance for any potential difference in call answer rates 
between residential and business customers, whether a weekly 
measurement requirement would reveal call-completion problems that a 
monthly measurement would mask, and whether three months of past 
information is sufficient if any investigation of rural call completion 
or service quality issues is deemed necessary.
    16. The NPRM also seeks comment on whether the rules proposed 
should expire at the end of the intercarrier compensation reform 
transition period or some other point in view of the possibility that 
intercarrier compensation reform should eliminate the primary 
incentives for cost-saving practices that appear to be undermining the 
reliability of rural telephone service. The NPRM seeks comment on 
whether a sunset provision would reduce the burden of compliance, 
whether rural consumers would be sufficiently protected from call 
completion problems if the rules expire at that time, alternative 
sunset dates, and whether the proposed requirements should remain in 
effect until the Commission modifies the relevant rules.
3. Proposed Ring Signaling Integrity Requirements
    17. The NPRM proposes a new rule that would prohibit both 
originating and intermediate providers from causing audible ringing to 
be sent to the caller before the terminating provider has signaled that 
the called party is being alerted. The proposed rule also requires 
originating providers to convey audio tones and announcements sent by 
the terminating provider to the calling party. The NPRM seeks comment 
on this proposed rule, including whether it is consistent with prior 
telephony industry practice, telephone user expectation with respect to 
the meaning of audible ringing, and recommended industry practice for 
TDM- and IP-based telephony interworking. The NPRM also seeks comment 
on the benefits and burdens associated with this proposed rule. 
Finally, the NPRM seeks comment on the need to extend these 
requirements to non-interconnected VoIP providers, including the 
Commission's authority to do so, and on whether, for technical reasons, 
any aspect of this proposed rule should be applied differently to 
originating CMRS carriers.

B. Legal Basis

    18. The legal basis for any action that may be taken pursuant to 
the NPRM is contained in sections 1, 2, 4(i), 201, 202, 218, 220(a), 
and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 
152, 154(i), 201, 202, 218, 220(a), 403.

C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which 
the Proposed Rules Will Apply

    19. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines 
the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms 
``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term ``small-business concern'' under the Small Business 
Act. A small-business concern'' is one which: (1) is independently 
owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and 
(3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.
    20. Small Businesses. Nationwide, there are a total of 
approximately 27.9 million small businesses, according to the SBA.
    21. Wired Telecommunications Carriers. The SBA has developed a 
small business size standard for Wired Telecommunications Carriers, 
which consists of all such companies having 1,500 or fewer employees 
Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that 
operated that year. Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 
employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees. Thus, 
under this size standard, the majority of firms can be considered 
small.
    22. Local Exchange Carriers (LECs). Neither the Commission nor the 
SBA has developed a size standard for small businesses specifically 
applicable to local exchange services. The closest applicable size 
standard under SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers. 
Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or 
fewer employees. According to Commission data, Census data for 2007 
shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year. Of 
those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 
operated with fewer than 100 employees. Consequently, the Commission 
estimates that most providers of local exchange service are small 
entities that may be affected by the rules and policies proposed in the 
NPRM.
    23. Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (incumbent LECs). Neither the

[[Page 21900]]

Commission nor the SBA has developed a size standard for small 
businesses specifically applicable to incumbent local exchange 
services. The closest applicable size standard under SBA rules is for 
Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a 
business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to 
Commission data, 1,307 carriers reported that they were incumbent local 
exchange service providers. Of these 1,307 carriers, an estimated 1,006 
have 1,500 or fewer employees and 301 have more than 1,500 employees. 
Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of incumbent 
local exchange service are small businesses that may be affected by 
rules adopted pursuant to the NPRM.
    24. We have included small incumbent LECs in this present RFA 
analysis. As noted above, a ``small business'' under the RFA is one 
that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size standard 
(e.g., a telephone communications business having 1,500 or fewer 
employees), and ``is not dominant in its field of operation.'' The 
SBA's Office of Advocacy contends that, for RFA purposes, small 
incumbent LECs are not dominant in their field of operation because any 
such dominance is not ``national'' in scope. We have therefore included 
small incumbent LECs in this RFA analysis, although we emphasize that 
this RFA action has no effect on Commission analyses and determinations 
in other, non-RFA contexts.
    25. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (competitive LECs), 
Competitive Access Providers (CAPs), Shared-Tenant Service Providers, 
and Other Local Service Providers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA 
has developed a small business size standard specifically for these 
service providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for 
the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size 
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
According to Commission data, 1,442 carriers reported that they were 
engaged in the provision of either competitive local exchange services 
or competitive access provider services. Of these 1,442 carriers, an 
estimated 1,256 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 186 have more than 
1,500 employees. In addition, 17 carriers have reported that they are 
Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and all 17 are estimated to have 1,500 
or fewer employees. In addition, 72 carriers have reported that they 
are Other Local Service Providers. Of the 72, seventy have 1,500 or 
fewer employees and two have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, 
the Commission estimates that most providers of competitive local 
exchange service, competitive access providers, Shared-Tenant Service 
Providers, and Other Local Service Providers are small entities that 
may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the NPRM.
    26. Interexchange Carriers (IXCs). Neither the Commission nor the 
SBA has developed a size standard for small businesses specifically 
applicable to interexchange services. The closest applicable size 
standard under SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers. 
Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or 
fewer employees. According to Commission data, 359 companies reported 
that their primary telecommunications service activity was the 
provision of interexchange services. Of these 359 companies, an 
estimated 317 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 42 have more than 1,500 
employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of 
interexchange service providers are small entities that may be affected 
by rules adopted pursuant to the NPRM.
    27. Prepaid Calling Card Providers. Neither the Commission nor the 
SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for 
prepaid calling card providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA 
rules is for the category Telecommunications Resellers. Under that size 
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
Census data for 2007 show that 1,523 firms provided resale services 
during that year. Of that number, 1,522 operated with fewer than 1000 
employees and one operated with more than 1,000. Thus, under this 
category and the associated small business size standard, the majority 
of these prepaid calling card providers can be considered small 
entities. According to Commission data, 193 carriers have reported that 
they are engaged in the provision of prepaid calling cards. Of these, 
an estimated all 193 have 1,500 or fewer employees and none have more 
than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the 
majority of prepaid calling card providers are small entities that may 
be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the NPRM.
    28. Local Resellers. The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for the category of Telecommunications Resellers. Under that 
size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. Census data for 2007 show that 1,523 firms provided resale 
services during that year. Of that number, 1,522 operated with fewer 
than 1000 employees and one operated with more than 1,000. Thus, under 
this category and the associated small business size standard, the 
majority of these local resale providers can be considered small 
entities. According to Commission data, 213 carriers have reported that 
they are engaged in the provision of local resale services. Of these, 
an estimated 211 have 1,500 or fewer employees and two have more than 
1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the 
majority of local resellers are small entities that may be affected by 
rules adopted pursuant to the NPRM.
    29. Toll Resellers. The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for the category of Telecommunications Resellers. Under that 
size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. Census data for 2007 show that 1,523 firms provided resale 
services during that year. Of that number, 1,522 operated with fewer 
than 1000 employees and one operated with more than 1,000. Thus, under 
this category and the associated small business size standard, the 
majority of these toll resale providers can be considered small 
entities. According to Commission data, 881 carriers have reported that 
they are engaged in the provision of toll resale services. Of these, an 
estimated 857 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 24 have more than 1,500 
employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of 
toll resellers are small entities that may be affected by rules adopted 
pursuant to the NPRM.
    30. Other Toll Carriers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has 
developed a size standard for small businesses specifically applicable 
to Other Toll Carriers. This category includes toll carriers that do 
not fall within the categories of interexchange carriers, operator 
service providers, prepaid calling card providers, satellite service 
carriers, or toll resellers. The closest applicable size standard under 
SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size 
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that 
operated that year. Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 
employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees. Thus, 
under this category and the associated small business size standard, 
the majority of Other Toll Carriers can be considered small. According 
to Commission data, 284 companies reported that their primary 
telecommunications service activity was

[[Page 21901]]

the provision of other toll carriage. Of these, an estimated 279 have 
1,500 or fewer employees and five have more than 1,500 employees. 
Consequently, the Commission estimates that most Other Toll Carriers 
are small entities that may be affected by the rules and policies 
adopted pursuant to the NPRM.
    31. Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). Since 
2007, the SBA has recognized wireless firms within this new, broad, 
economic census category. Prior to that time, such firms were within 
the now-superseded categories of Paging and Cellular and Other Wireless 
Telecommunications. Under the present and prior categories, the SBA has 
deemed a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. For this category, census data for 2007 show that there were 
11,163 establishments that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 
10,791 establishments had employment of 999 or fewer employees and 372 
had employment of 1000 employees or more. Thus, under this category and 
the associated small business size standard, the Commission estimates 
that the majority of wireless telecommunications carriers (except 
satellite) are small entities that may be affected by our proposed 
action.
    32. Similarly, according to Commission data, 413 carriers reported 
that they were engaged in the provision of wireless telephony, 
including cellular service, Personal Communications Service (PCS), and 
Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) Telephony services. Of these, an 
estimated 261 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 152 have more than 
1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that 
approximately half or more of these firms can be considered small. 
Thus, using available data, we estimate that the majority of wireless 
firms can be considered small.
    33. Cable and Other Program Distribution. Since 2007, these 
services have been defined within the broad economic census category of 
Wired Telecommunications Carriers; that category is defined as follows: 
``This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating 
and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure 
that they own and/or lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, 
sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks. Transmission 
facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of 
technologies.'' The SBA has developed a small business size standard 
for this category, which is: All such firms having 1,500 or fewer 
employees. Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 
establishments that operated that year. Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated 
with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 
employees. Thus, under this size standard, the majority of firms 
offering cable and other program distribution services can be 
considered small and may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the 
NPRM.
    34. Cable Companies and Systems. The Commission has developed its 
own small business size standards, for the purpose of cable rate 
regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a ``small cable company'' is 
one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers, nationwide. Industry data 
indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but eleven are 
small under this size standard. In addition, under the Commission's 
rules, a ``small system'' is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer 
subscribers. Industry data indicate that, of 6,635 systems nationwide, 
5,802 systems have under 10,000 subscribers, and an additional 302 
systems have 10,000-19,999 subscribers. Thus, under this second size 
standard, most cable systems are small and may be affected by rules 
adopted pursuant to the NPRM.
    35. All Other Telecommunications. The Census Bureau defines this 
industry as including ``establishments primarily engaged in providing 
specialized telecommunications services, such as satellite tracking, 
communications telemetry, and radar station operation. This industry 
also includes establishments primarily engaged in providing satellite 
terminal stations and associated facilities connected with one or more 
terrestrial systems and capable of transmitting telecommunications to, 
and receiving telecommunications from, satellite systems. 
Establishments providing Internet services or Voice over Internet 
Protocol (VoIP) services via client-supplied telecommunications 
connections are also included in this industry.'' The SBA has developed 
a small business size standard for this category; that size standard is 
$30.0 million or less in average annual receipts. According to Census 
Bureau data for 2007, there were 2,623 firms in this category that 
operated for the entire year. Of these, 2478 establishments had annual 
receipts of under $10 million and 145 establishments had annual 
receipts of $10 million or more. Consequently, we estimate that the 
majority of these firms are small entities that may be affected by our 
action.

D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements for Small Entities

    36. In the NPRM, the Commission proposes to require covered 
providers to report to the Commission the monthly call answer rate to 
each rural OCN to which 100 or more calls were attempted during the 
calendar month and the nonrural monthly overall average once per 
calendar quarter. Compliance with these reporting obligations may 
affect small entities, and may include new administrative processes.
    37. In the NPRM, the Commission also proposes a rule requiring that 
an originating facilities-based provider or the first facilities-based 
provider in the call path record for each long-distance call it 
attempts, in addition to calling party number, called party number, 
date and time: (1) Whether the call attempt was handed off to an 
intermediate provider and, if so, which intermediate provider; (2) 
whether the call attempt was going to a rural carrier and, if so, which 
rural carrier as identified by its OCN; (3) whether the call attempt 
was interstate; and (4) whether the call attempt was answered. The 
Commission also proposes to require these providers to retain these 
records for a period including the six most recent calendar months. 
Compliance with these reporting obligations may affect small entities, 
and may include new administrative processes. We note parenthetically 
that in the NPRM, the Commission seeks comment on the benefits and 
burdens of these proposals, and on whether the categories of records to 
be retained are normally collected in the ordinary course of business.

E. Steps Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered

    38. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, 
specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in 
reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four 
alternatives (among others): ``(1) The establishment of differing 
compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into 
account the resources available to small entities; (2) the 
clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and 
reporting requirements under the rules for such small entities; (3) the 
use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption 
from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for such small 
entities.''
    39. The Commission is aware that some of the proposals under

[[Page 21902]]

consideration will impact small entities by imposing costs and 
administrative burdens. For this reason, the NPRM proposes a number of 
measures to minimize or eliminate the costs and burdens generated by 
compliance with the proposed rules.
    40. First, The NPRM proposes to require only those originating 
long-distance providers and other covered providers with more than 
100,000 retail long-distance subscribers (business or residential) to 
retain the basic information on call attempts and to periodically 
report the summary analysis of that information to the Commission.
    41. The NPRM proposes two safe harbor provisions that could reduce 
the economic impact on small entities. In the first safe harbor, the 
NPRM proposes to relieve covered providers of their reporting and 
retention obligations if they certify that: They restrict by contract 
directly connected intermediate providers to no more than one 
additional intermediate provider in the call path before the call 
reaches the terminating provider; any nondisclosure agreement with an 
intermediate provider permits the originating provider to reveal the 
intermediate provider's identity to the Commission and to any rural 
carrier whose incoming long-distance traffic is affected by the 
intermediate provider's performance; and they have a process in place 
to monitor the performance of their intermediate providers in 
completing calls to individual rural telephone companies as identified 
by Operating Carrier Number.
    42. In the second safe harbor, the NPRM also proposes to reduce to 
three months a covered provider's record retention obligations and 
eliminate its reporting obligations if it certifies annually that for 
each of the preceding 12 months: (1) Its average call answer rate for 
all rural carriers to which the provider attempted more than 100 calls 
in a month was no more than 2 percent less than the average call answer 
rate for all calls it placed to nonrural carriers in the same month; 
and (2) the call answer rates for 95 percent of those rural carriers to 
which it attempted more than 100 calls were no more than 3 percent 
below the average rural call answer rate. A covered provider must also 
certify that it has a process in place to investigate its performance 
in completing calls to individual rural telephone companies (as 
identified by Operating Carrier Number) for which the call answer rate 
is more than 3 percent below the average of the rural call answer rate 
for all rural telephone companies to which it attempted more than 100 
calls.
    43. In the NPRM, the Commission also seeks comment on whether the 
proposed rules should include a sunset provision to account for the 
possibility that reforms to the intercarrier compensation rules may 
alleviate many of the rural call completion problems addressed in the 
NPRM. Such a sunset provision could limit the costs and burdens of 
compliance with the proposed rules by establishing an end date for 
those costs and burdens.
    44. The Commission expects to consider the economic impact on small 
entities, as identified in comments filed in response to the NPRM, in 
reaching its final conclusions and taking action in this proceeding. 
The proposed ring signaling integrity requirements in the NPRM could 
have an economic impact on both small and large entities. However, the 
Commission believes that any impact of such requirements is outweighed 
by the accompanying benefits to the public and to the operation and 
efficiency of the long distance industry.

F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rules

    None.

V. Ordering Clauses

    45. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to the authority 
contained in sections 1, 2, 4(i), 201, 202, 218, 220(a), and 403 of the 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 
201, 202, 218, 220(a), 403, this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is 
adopted.
    46. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a 
copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of 
the Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 64

    Communications common carriers, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Telecommunications, Telephone.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.

Proposed Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 64 as follows:

PART 64-- MISCELLANEOUS RULES RELATING TO COMMON CARRIERS

0
1. The authority citation for part 64 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 254(k); 403(b)(2)(B), (c), Pub. L. 
104-104, 110 Stat. 56. Interpret or apply 47 U.S.C. 201, 218, 222, 
225, 226, 227, 228, 254(k), 616, 620, and the Middle Class Tax 
Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112-96, unless 
otherwise noted.

0
2. Add subpart V to part 64 to read as follows:

Subpart V--Data Retention and Reporting of Call Answer Rates 
Affecting Long Distance Telephone Calls to Rural Areas

Sec.
64.2101 Definitions.
64.2103 Retention of call attempt records.
64.2105 Report of call answer rates.
64.2107 Exceptions from retention and reporting requirements.

    Authority: 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 202(a), 220(a), 403.


Sec.  64.2101  Definitions.

    (a) Answered call. The term ``answered call'' means a call that is 
answered by the called party, including by voicemail service, facsimile 
machine or answering machine.
    (b) Attempted call. The term ``attempted call'' means a call that 
results in transmission by the reporting entity toward the terminating 
provider of the initial call setup message, regardless of the voice 
call signaling and transmission technology used.
    (c) Call answer rate. The term ``call answer rate'' means the 
number of attempted calls that result in an answered call divided by 
the total number of attempted calls, expressed as a percentage.
    (d) Facilities-based provider. The term ``facilities-based 
provider'' excludes providers that do not originate long distance calls 
using their own equipment and includes interconnected VoIP providers, 
for purposes of this part.
    (e) Intermediate provider. The term ``intermediate provider'' has 
the same meaning as in Sec.  64.1600(f).
    (f) Long distance voice service. The term ``long distance voice 
service'' includes interstate inter-LATA, intrastate inter-LATA, 
interstate interexchange, intrastate interexchange, inter-MTA 
interstate and inter-MTA intrastate voice services.
    (g) Operating company number (OCN). The term ``operating company 
number'' means a four-place alphanumeric code that uniquely

[[Page 21903]]

identifies a provider of local telecommunications service.
    (h) Originating long distance voice service provider (originating 
provider). The term ``originating long distance voice service 
provider'' or ``originating provider'' includes a local exchange 
carrier as defined in Sec.  64.4001(d), an interexchange carrier as 
defined in Sec.  64.4001(e), a commercial mobile radio service provider 
as defined in Sec.  20.3 of this chapter, and an interconnected voice 
over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider as defined in 47 U.S.C. 153(25).
    (i) Rural CLEC. The term ``rural CLEC'' has the same meaning as in 
Sec.  61.26(a)(6) of this chapter.
    (j) Rural OCN. The term ``rural OCN'' means an operating carrier 
number that uniquely identifies a rural telephone company. The term 
``nonrural OCN'' means an operating carrier number that does not 
identify a rural telephone company.
    (k) Rural telephone company. The term ``rural telephone company'' 
has the same meaning as in Sec.  51.5 of this chapter.


Sec.  64.2103  Retention of call attempt records.

    Except as described in Sec.  64.2107, an originating long distance 
voice service provider (or first facilities-based provider when the 
originating provider is not facilities-based) shall retain records of 
attempted calls in a readily retrievable form for a period that 
includes the six (6) most recent complete calendar months:
    (a) Information shall be retained for each attempted call to a 
rural telephone company (including rural CLEC) and nonrural LEC 
(including nonrural CLEC). An attempted call that is returned by an 
intermediate provider to the originating provider and re-assigned shall 
count as a single attempted call.
    (b) The information contained in each ``record'' of an attempted 
call shall include:
    (1) Calling party number;
    (2) Called party number;
    (3) Date;
    (4) Time;
    (5) An indication whether the call was handed off to an 
intermediate provider or not and, if so, which intermediate provider;
    (6) An indication whether the called party number was assigned to a 
rural telephone company or not and, if so, the OCN of the rural 
telephone company;
    (7) An indication whether the call was interstate or intrastate; 
and
    (8) An indication whether the call was answered or not.


Sec.  64.2105  Report of call answer rates.

    Except as described in Sec.  64.2107, each originating long 
distance voice service provider (or its first facilities-based provider 
when the originating provider is not facilities-based) shall submit a 
report to the Commission in electronic form not later than the 15th day 
of the first month following the end of each calendar quarter. The 
information contained in the report shall include for each month in 
that quarter:
    (a) For each rural OCN to which more than 100 calls were attempted 
during the month, the OCN, the state, the number of attempted calls, 
the number of attempted calls that were answered, and the call answer 
rate;
    (b) For rural OCNs to which more than 100 calls were attempted 
during the month (all such OCNs in the aggregate), the total number of 
attempted calls, the total number of attempted calls that were 
answered, and the call answer rate; and
    (c) For nonrural OCNs (in the aggregate), the total number of 
attempted calls, the total number of attempted calls that were 
answered, and the call answer rate.


Sec.  64.2107  Exceptions from retention and reporting requirements.

    (a) An originating long distance voice service provider with 
100,000 or fewer total retail long distance subscribers (business and 
residential combined) is not required to retain records of attempted 
calls or to report call answer rates as provided in this subpart. A 
first facilities-based provider for originating long distance service 
providers that do not report, and that provides service directly or 
indirectly to 100,000 or fewer retail long distance subscribers, is not 
required to retain records and to report as provided in this subpart.
    (b) An originating provider or a first facilities-based provider 
that makes one of the following annual certifications is not required 
to report rural call completion rates to the Commission for one year 
following such certification. Providers filing Certification in 
paragraph (b)(1) of this section are not required to retain records of 
attempted calls, and providers filing Certification in paragraph (b)(2) 
of this section are required to retain records of attempted calls for 
only the three (3) most recent complete calendar months.
    (1) Certification of Intermediate Provider Management. The chief 
executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), or other senior 
executive of an originating long distance voice service provider or 
first facilities-based provider with first-hand knowledge of the 
accuracy and completeness of the information provided, certifies as 
follows: I -------- (name) -------- (title), an officer of -------- 
(entity), certify that ------------ (entity) restricts by contract any 
intermediate provider to which a call is directed by (entity) from 
permitting more than one additional intermediate provider in the call 
path before the call reaches the terminating provider. I certify that 
any nondisclosure agreement with an intermediate provider permits ----
---- (entity) to reveal the identity of the intermediate provider to 
the Commission and to the rural telephone company(ies) whose incoming 
long-distance calls are affected by the intermediate provider's 
performance. I certify that -------- (entity) has a process in place to 
monitor the performance of its intermediate providers in completing 
calls to individual rural telephone companies as identified by 
Operating Carrier Number.
    (2) Certification of Rural Call Performance. The chief executive 
officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), or other senior executive 
of an originating long distance voice service provider or first 
facilities-based provider with first-hand knowledge of the accuracy and 
completeness of the information provided, certifies as follows:
    I -------- (name) -------- (title), an officer of -------- 
(entity), certify that for each of the previous 12 full calendar 
months, -------- (entity) has met the following performance standard: 
the average of the call answer rates for all rural telephone companies 
as identified by Operating Carrier Number to which -------- (entity) 
attempted more than 100 calls in a month was no more than 2 percent 
less than the average call answer rate for all calls -------- (entity) 
placed to nonrural LECs in the same month, and the call answer rates 
for 95 percent of those rural telephone companies to which -------- 
(entity) attempted more than 100 calls were no more than 3 percent 
below the average rural call answer rate. I certify that -------- 
(entity) has a process in place to investigate its performance in 
completing calls to individual rural telephone companies as identified 
by Operating Carrier Number for which the call answer rate is more than 
3 percent below the average of the rural call answer rate for all rural 
telephone companies to which -------- (entity) attempted more than 100 
calls.
0
3. Add subpart W to part 64 to read as follows:

Subpart W--Ring Signaling Integrity

Sec.
64.2201 Ringing indication requirements.


[[Page 21904]]


    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 201(b).


Sec.  64.2201  Ringing indication requirements.

    (a) Telecommunications carriers and providers of interconnected 
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, when originating 
interstate or intrastate traffic on the public switched telephone 
network (PSTN) or originating interstate or intrastate traffic that is 
destined for the PSTN, shall not generate a ringing indication locally 
that is conveyed to the calling party until the terminating provider 
has signaled that the called party is being alerted to an incoming 
call, such as by ringing. If the terminating provider signals that the 
called party is being alerted and provides an audio tone or 
announcement, originating providers are required to cease any locally-
generated audible tone or announcement and convey the terminating 
provider's tone or announcement to the calling party. The scope of this 
provision includes any voice call signaling and transmission 
technologies.
    (b) Intermediate providers within an interstate or intrastate call 
path that originates and/or terminates on the PSTN must return 
unaltered to providers in the call path any signaling information that 
indicates that the terminating provider is alerting the called party, 
such as by ringing. An intermediate provider may not generate signaling 
information that indicates the terminating provider is alerting the 
called party unless it has received such an indication from the 
terminating provider. Intermediate providers must also return unaltered 
any audio tone or announcement provided by the terminating provider. 
The scope of this provision includes any voice call signaling and 
transmission technologies.

[FR Doc. 2013-08527 Filed 4-11-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P