[38 Pa.B. 6579]
[Saturday, November 29, 2008]
Public Meeting held
November 6, 2008
Commissioners Present: James H. Cawley, Chairperson; Tyrone J. Christy, Vice Chairperson; Robert F. Powelson; Kim Pizzingrilli, Statement attached; Wayne E. Gardner
Additional Numbering Resources to Local Exchange Carriers: Safety Valve Process;
Doc. No. M-2008-2032767
The Commission issued a Secretarial letter on April 2, 2008, requesting interested parties to submit comments regarding the Commission's ''safety valve'' petition process. These petitions involve the Commission's delegated authority to award numbering resources to telecommunications carriers in certain situations where Neustar,1 the national numbering resource administrator, is unable to do so. Comments were received from various interested parties. Additionally, a working group meeting was subsequently held on May 15, 2008. The Commission has reviewed all comments received by the interested parties and hereby adopts a streamlined safety valve process.
In order to address the rapid growth and use of numbering resources, the Federal Communications Commission (''FCC'') issued several orders implementing various methods to reduce the depletion of numbering resources.2 In these orders, the FCC delegated to state commissions the ability to monitor and enforce a carrier's compliance with the Federal utilization requirements.3
Specifically, as part of its initiative to address the depletion of numbering resources, the FCC established procedures that address growth numbering resources in its Third Report and Order.4 The FCC, in that order, reaffirmed that carriers must meet a months-to-exhaust requirement before receiving growth numbering resources so as to ensure that telephone numbers are used efficiently and that carriers are prevented from maintaining excessive inventories of numbers.5 In addition, the utility must meet the national utilization threshold requirement of 75%.6 According to the FCC's regulations, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (''NANPA''), Neustar, shall withhold numbering resources from any carrier based on its determination that the utility has not demonstrated a verifiable need for numbering resources and has not exhausted all other available remedies.7
However, in that same order, the FCC also established a ''safety valve'' process8 that allows a carrier to obtain additional NXX numbers, in limited circumstances, even if a carrier is not able to meet the utilization level and months-to-exhaust thresholds discussed above that are normally required to obtain additional numbering resources.9 The safety valve process is to be used as a last resort and, to the extent possible, as a stop-gap measure to enable carriers in need of additional numbering to continue to serve their customers. The FCC delegated this authority to state commissions. As such, the Commission can provide a telecommunications carrier with additional numbering resources in a given rate center if the carrier cannot meet the demand for resources through its current inventory.
The Commission's current safety valve process involves a carrier filing a formal petition with the Commission requesting safety valve numbering relief. In that petition, the carrier provides a cover letter requesting a waiver to obtain additional numbering resources; details for the request are generally set forth in an attachment. The information contained in the attachment includes a statement of the purpose of the petition, background of the customer's numbering request, an explanation as to why the carrier is unable to fulfill the customer's request with current numbering resources, and an indication that the carrier applied to Neustar (the numbering administrator) for the requested numbers and evidence that the application was denied.
In addition, a petition must also include a ''Thousands-Block Application Form, Part 1A,'' a months-to-exhaust and utilization certification worksheet, a copy of the written rejection from Neustar, and documentation from the end-user customer that supports the request.
Upon receipt of the petition, the Secretary's Bureau dockets the petition and allows 20 days for an answer or response to the petition in accordance with the Commission's regulations.10 In the interim, Commission staff drafts an order for consideration by the full Commission at the Public Meeting immediately following the expiration of the 20-day answer period. After approval at Public Meeting, the order is entered and served upon the carrier and the appropriate numbering administrator.11 The Commission processes on average two to three safety valve process petitions from telecommunications carriers per month. To date, all safety valve petitions submitted for consideration at Public Meeting have been approved by the Commission.12
At its March 27, 2008 Public Meeting, the Commission unanimously approved the motion of Commissioner Pizzingrilli to convene a working group of interested stakeholders to examine the Commission's procedures for processing safety valve petitions. In her motion, Commissioner Pizzingrilli stated:I believe that the Commission's current process for evaluating safety valve requests can be streamlined to improve the timeliness and efficiency with which these requests are reviewed. . . . I am confident that Pennsylvania can . . . develop a streamlined approach that will improve our current process while maintaining an appropriate level of oversight and continuing to ensure that any action taken is in the public interest.
By its Secretarial letter issued April 2, 2008, the Commission requested that interested parties submit comments on the safety valve process. Comments were received from AT&T,13 Verizon,14 the Pennsylvania Telephone Association (''PTA''), the United Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, LLC, d/b/a Embarq Pennsylvania (''Embarq''); the Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania (''BCAP''); D&E Systems, Inc. (''D&E''); and Sprint.15 A working group meeting was subsequently held on May 15, 2008. Participants included AT&T, Verizon, PTA, Embarq, BCAP and Sprint.
1. Written Comments
As noted above, written comments were filed by AT&T, Verizon, PTA, Embarq, BCAP, D&E and Sprint. Summaries of those written comments are as follow:
AT&T stated that it agrees with Commissioner Pizzingrilli that Pennsylvania should adopt a streamlined process for disposing of safety valve numbering requests. AT&T believes that such a process is necessary to enable businesses in Pennsylvania that need telephone numbers ''to keep their plans for increased economic activity in the Commonwealth on schedule'' because delays in ''furnishing the numbers required . . . directly delays the [utility's customer's] plans to increase its operations . . .'' AT&T also noted that no answers have ever been filed in response to safety valve petitions and no petitions have ever been denied by the Commission.
AT&T recommends: (1) shortening the 20-day response time for safety valve petitions to five calendar days pursuant to the Commission's authority under section 5.61(a) of its regulations;16 (2) mandating that copies of safety valve petitions be submitted by e-mail to staff; (3) if no answer is filed to a safety valve petition, automatically approving the petition on the sixth calendar day or the first business day thereafter; (4) directing staff to notify the petitioning carrier of the approval by electronic mail; and (5) issuing an order formally approving the petition at the first Public Meeting following the automatic approval period. In the event that an answer is filed, the petition would not be automatically approved but would be considered at the first Public Meeting after the five-day answer period has passed.
Verizon also agrees that Pennsylvania should adopt a streamlined safety valve process. Verizon echoed AT&T's comment to this effect that no answers have ever been filed in response to safety valve petitions and that, in spite of this, it generally takes at least 30 days, and sometimes up to 60 days, from the date a petition is filed before it is granted. Verizon notes that, in its orders creating the safety valve process the FCC directed states to dispose of the requests ''as expeditiously as possible.'' Verizon feels this directive is not being met under the current system.
Verizon suggests a streamlined process that mirrors the process proposed by AT&T.
Sprint recommends establishing a ten-day period for considering safety valve requests. Sprint also provided a list of criteria the Commission should consider when reviewing safety valve requests that is similar to the criteria currently used by the Commission.
d. Remaining Comments
D&E and Embarq did not provide any specific comments of their own but did voice support for the comments filed by AT&T. PTA and BCAP also did not provide any specific comments but also voiced support for the Commission adopting a streamlined process and indicated that they would like to participate in the working group session.
2. Working Group Session
A working group session for interested parties was held on May 15, 2008; all commenting parties participated with the exception of D&E. The session consisted of a give-and-take dialogue of the ideas proposed in the written comments as well as of ideas proposed by staff.
After reviewing the comments and meeting with the interested parties, we have determined that the following changes will be made to the current safety valve process: (1) requests for numbering relief shall no longer be filed in the nature of a formal petition; (2) the Commission will create a template form that companies can file when requesting numbering relief from the Commission; and (3) safety valve requests will be disposed of via Secretarial letters approved at Public Meeting.
1. Cease Requiring Numbering Requests to be in the Form of Petitions
As noted above, the Commission currently treats numbering requests as petitions. By doing so, the 20-day answer/responsive pleading requirements found in the Commission's regulations automatically attach.17 We acknowledge that this 20-day answer period often causes an excessive delay in the granting of these requests since the numbering requests will not be processed and submitted for consideration at Public Meeting until the response time has elapsed. This delay is unnecessary largely because no numbering request has ever been protested by another party. Moreover, numbering petitions are not served on any parties, so it is unlikely that a numbering petition ever would be protested. Further, there is a question as to whether anyone has standing to protest a numbering petition.
Additionally, we note that there is no requirement in any of the FCC orders delegating safety valve authority that applications for numbering resources be docketed as petitions; rather, the FCC used the generic term ''request'' to describe an application for numbering resources.18
We are opposed to simply shortening the responsive period for numbering petitions as was suggested by AT&T and those supporting AT&T's comments. We strongly believe that the response periods for all petitions filed with the Commission should be kept uniform so as to avoid confusion. While all commenting parties do not necessarily share our view that all response times should be kept consistent, they do accept changing the form of the numbering requests away from petitions as a reasonable alternative to keeping the requests as petitions with a shortened response period. Accordingly, we will begin to designate all future safety valve matters as ''requests'' so that the 20-day response period set forth in our regulations is not applicable.
2. Create Uniform Request Form
While all numbering requests are currently docketed as petitions, there is no uniformity in the form of pleadings filed by the companies. Some companies file formal petitions while others file letter petitions.19 While this generally does not cause technical and legal staff any issues, it does understandably tend to create confusion as to how to docket the different filings.
As such, we hereby adopt the working group's consensus recommendation to create a standard form for companies to file when requesting numbering relief. The form will help expedite docketing and provide a more consistent and orderly flow of information. We have created a template referred to as a ''Safety Valve Numbering Resource Request Form'' in light of the discussion above. A copy of that form, to be included on the Commission's web site, is attached to this order. The Commission directs that carriers file the request form with the Secretary's Bureau, but contemporaneously serve the Law Bureau and the Bureau of Fixed Utility Services with copies of the filing.
3. Delegate Authority to Dispose of Numbering Requests to Staff
All commenting parties fully supported delegating authority to Commission staff to dispose of safety valve requests. The parties noted that numerous other states including New Jersey, New York and Delaware dispose of safety valve requests via administrative action. The parties believe that such delegation would expedite the safety valve process. In fact, in order to truly expedite the process, AT&T proposed that after a five-day response time frame that safety valve requests should be automatically ''pre-approved'' by staff and then subsequently an order formally approving the staff determination be issued by the Commission at the first Public Meeting following the automatic staff pre-approval.
The Commission, however, recognizes that safety valve requests involve scarce public resources. Because of that, we believe that future safety valve requests should continue to be submitted to the full Commission for consideration at Public Meeting. If granting the request is found to be in the public interest, the full Commission will issue a Secretarial letter awarding the numbering relief. That letter will be served on the carrier and the appropriate numbering administrator. The Commission notes that Secretarial letters can have same legal effect as Commission orders. See West Pennsylvania Power Company v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 100 A.2d 110 (Pa. Super. 1954).
In order to expedite the process, we direct staff to review the requests within a ten-day time frame and to submit a recommendation to the Commission for consideration at the next available Public Meeting thereafter. We believe that a ten-day time frame will still provide a requesting carrier with numbering resources in a reasonable amount of time while not hampering the Commission's ability to fully review each request. However, the Commission reserves the right to review safety valve requests beyond the ten day time frame as prescribed in this Order if the carrier's information is incomplete or warrants additional review.
Based on the foregoing, we modify the current safety valve process in the following manner: (1) requests for numbering relief shall no longer be filed in the nature of a formal petition; (2) the Commission will create a template form that companies shall file when requesting numbering relief from the Commission; and (3) safety valve requests will be disposed of via Secretarial letter approved at Public Meeting; Therefore,
Statement of Commissioner Kim Pizzingrilli
Today the Commission implements a streamlined safety valve process which will improve the timeliness and efficiency of the review of requests for numbering resources made pursuant to the Safety Valve provision of the FCC's Third Report and Order20 (FCC Order). I wish to thank the stakeholders, who filed comments and participated in the working group, and Staff for their collaborative efforts in providing valuable insight which resulted in improving the manner in which the Commission processes safety valve requests.
Since telecommunications carriers generally request additional numbers in response to service orders from large business customers, I believe it is imperative that the Commission expeditiously act upon these requests to ensure that Pennsylvania remains attractive to businesses seeking to expand or relocate its activities within the Commonwealth. Therefore, I encourage Staff to monitor the revised process and continue to develop further enhancements.
It Is Ordered That:
1. The Commission will streamline the ''safety valve'' process as set forth in the body of this Order.
2. The future safety valve requests submitted to the Commission after the entry date of this Order shall be completed on the template form adopted by the Commission and attached to this Order as ''Appendix A.''
3. The future safety valve requests submitted to the Commission after the entry date of this Order shall be processed in the manner set forth in the body of this Order.
4. The Secretary's Bureau shall serve a copy of this Order upon all jurisdictional telecommunications carriers.
5. The copy of this Order be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and published on our web site.
6. This docket be marked closed.
JAMES J. MCNULTY,
Appendix A: Pennsylvania Safety Valve Numbering Request Form
PENNSYLVANIA SAFETY VALVE NUMBERING
RESOURCE REQUEST FORM
1. Certify existing numbering inventory cannot satisfy this specific request and/or requirement, and customer's request is not a ''vanity number'' request:
Name of Certifier ______ Company Name ______ OCN ______ Date ______ Telephone ______ ______
2. Indicate reason(s) for this safety valve request (check all that apply):
Specific customer request--verified by attached confidential customer letter/document
____ need specific block(s) / NXX(s) for internal dialing plan (e.g. NXX ending in 2)
____ equipment limitations (e.g. cannot use 0, 9 blocks)
____ need large block(s) of sequential TNs for business expansion/growth
____ wholesale/resale business arrangement
____ other customer requirement as explained in attachment
SP technical requirement--verified in attached confidential document
____ need TNs for specific technology (e.g., TLDNs, prepaid service, test #s)
____ Location Routing Number (LRN) requirements
____ other technical requirement as explained in attachment
Growth requirement--verified in attached confidential document
____ new technology release
____ accelerated demand
____ market promotion
____ other growth requirement as explained in attachment
3. All requests will require NANPA/PA application request and associated denial and one of the following (check accompanying document):
____ Customer letter--required for specific customer request
____ SP technical requirement--documentation
____ Growth request--documentation
Explanation for ''Other'' entry on checklist:
Confidentiality Notice: This document and all attachment(s) are for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) at the PA PUC, and contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. This confidentiality requirement does not apply to transfer of necessary data between the PA PUC and NANPA/PA.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 08-2180. Filed for public inspection November 28, 2008, 9:00 a.m.]
1 Neustar is a private company selected by the FCC through a competitive bidding process to serve as the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (''NANPA''). In this role, Neustar serves as both the administrator for the North American Numbering Plan, which deals with full 10,000 block number codes, and the national number pooling system, which is a process by which carriers assigned full 10,000 number codes share telephone numbers in 1,000 number blocks.
2 See Petition for Declaratory Order Ruling and Request for Expedited Action on the July 15, 1997 Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Regarding Area Codes 412, 610, 215, and 717, Memorandum Opinion and Order and Order on Reconsideration, CC Docket 96-98 (rel. September 28, 1998); In the Matter of Numbering Resources Optimization, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, CC Docket No. 99-200, (rel. March 31, 2000); In the matter of Numbering Optimization, Second Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration in CC Docket No. 96-98 and CC docket No. 99-200, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in CC Docket No. 99-200, CC Dockets 99-200 and 96-98, (rel. December 29, 2000); In the Matter of Numbering Resources Optimization, Third Report and Order and Second Order on Reconsideration in CC Docket No. 96-98 and CC Docket No. 99-200, CC Docket Nos. 99-200, 96-98, and 95-116, (rel. December 28, 2001).
3 See 47 C.F.R. 52.15(i), (j)(5).
4 In the Matter of Numbering Resource Optimization, Third Report and Order and Second Order on Reconsideration, CC Docket No. 99-200 (Order adopted December 12, 2001). The order addresses the issue of national thousand-block pooling, including pooling for non-LNP capable and wireless carriers as well as a Federal cost recovery mechanism for thousand-block pooling. The order further addresses other numbering optimization measures including service-specific and technology-specific area code overlays.
5 Id. at ¶8.
6 47 C.F.R. 52.15(g)--(h).
8 Id. at ¶64.
9 All applicants for growth numbering resources shall achieve a 75146432tilization threshold, calculated in accordance with the Federal regulations for the rate center in which they are requesting growth numbering resources. In addition, the carrier shall provide a months-to-exhaust worksheet that provides utilization by rate center for the preceding 6 months and projected utilization for the next 12-months.
10 See 52 Pa. Code §§ 5.61 and 5.101.
11 National Pooling has numbering administrators for each geographic region.
12 There have been some instances where a telecommunications carrier has withdrawn its request.
13 AT&T's comments were filed on behalf of AT&T Communications of Pennsylvania, LLC; TCG Pittsburgh, Inc.; and TCG New Jersey, Inc.
14 Verizon's comments were filed on behalf of Verizon Pennsylvania Inc., Verizon North Inc. and MCIMetro Transmission Services LLC.
15 Sprint's comments were filed on behalf of Sprint Communications Company, LP; Sprint Spectrum, LP; Nextel Communications of Mid-Atlantic, Inc.; and NPCR, Inc.
16 52 Pa. Code § 5.61(a).
17 See 52 Pa. Code §§ 5.61 and 5.101.
18 See In the Matter of Numbering Resources Optimization Third Report and Order and Second Order on Reconsideration in CC docket No. 96-98 and CC docket No. 99-200, CC Docket Nos. 99-200, 96-98, 95-116, December 12, 2001.
19 All companies do, however, provide the same information; it is simply the form of the information that varies by company.
20 In the Matter of Numbering Resource Optimization, Third Report and Order and Second Order on Reconsideration, CC Docket No. 99-200 (Order adopted December 12, 2007).
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