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Pennsylvania Code



Subchapter N. LOCAL SERVICE PROVIDER
ABANDONMENT PROCESS


Sec.


63.301.    Statement of purpose and policy.
63.302.    Definitions.
63.303.    Pretermination provisions.
63.304.    NSP termination process for wholesale customers.
63.305.    Initiation of abandonment.
63.306.    Abandoning LSP obligations for abandonment.
63.307.    Abandonment process management.
63.308.    Commission consideration and action.
63.309.    Acquiring LSP provisions and obligations.
63.310.    Abandoning LSP follow-up obligations.

Authority

   The provisions of this Subchapter N is issued under the Public Utility Code, 66 Pa.C.S. 501, 1501 and 3001—3009, unless otherwise noted.

Source

   The provisions of this Subchapter N adopted April 15, 2005, effective April 16, 2005, 35 Pa.B. 2289, unless otherwise noted.

§ 63.301. Statement of purpose and policy.

 (a)  Purpose. The purpose of this subchapter is to:

   (1)  Provide for an orderly process when a NSP intends to terminate service to a LSP.

   (2)  Provide for an orderly process when a LSP seeks to stop the provision of existing service to residential and business customers under any of the following circumstances:

     (i)   A NSP that provides part or all of the services necessary to provide local service is intending to terminate a LSP’s interconnection agreement.

     (ii)   The Commission has issued an order to revoke a LSP’s certificate of public convenience.

     (iii)   A LSP has filed an application to abandon a certificate of public convenience for the provision of local service.

   (3)  Ensure that customers are provided ample notice and the opportunity to select a new LSP of their choice and thereby not lose local service when the LSP exits their market.

   (4)  Coordinate information flow and activities through a project management team.

   (5)  Ensure that an abandoning LSP provides sufficient network information so that customers are able to be migrated seamlessly.

   (6)  Ensure that an abandoning LSP coordinates with 9-1-1 service providers and the North American Numbering Plan Administrator.

 (b)  Application.

   (1)  This subchapter applies to a LSP that provides local service to residential or business customers.

   (2)  This subchapter applies to a NSP that provides wholesale local service to a LSP and intends to terminate the LSP’s service for breach of an interconnection agreement.

§ 63.302. Definitions.

 The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

   Abandon—To cease providing local service to existing customers. The term does not include discontinuance as a result of a customer’s request or a temporary change in the provision of service that may arise from maintenance, repair or failure of a LSP’s equipment or facilities.

   Abandoning LSP—A LSP that seeks to abandon providing local service to existing customers.

   Acquiring LSP—A LSP that voluntarily undertakes to provide local service to customers of the abandoning LSP after the abandoning LSP is permitted to alter or abandon providing local service.

   CSR—Customer service record—Documentation indicating the customer’s name, address, contact telephone number, quantity of lines, services, features and other information associated with a customer account.

   Customer—The end-user recipient of telephone service provided by a LSP.

   Exit date—The date upon which an abandoning LSP intends to cease providing telecommunications service.

   Full facilities—The term used when the LSP has all the services and equipment (that is, central office switches, local loops, trunk lines, and the like) necessary to provide telephonic communications between telephones connected to it or to other central offices.

   Interconnection agreement—An agreement to interconnect directly or indirectly with the facilities and equipment of other telecommunications carriers.

   LSP—Local service provider—A company, such as a local exchange carrier (LEC), that provides local service by resale, by unbundled network elements (with or without platform) or through its own facilities, or by a combination of these methods of providing local service to a customer.

   Local service—Telecommunications service within a customer’s local calling area.

     (i)   The term includes the customer’s local calling plan, dial tone line, touch-tone and directory assistance calls allowed without additional charge.

     (ii)   The term also includes services covered by the Federal Line Cost Charge, Pennsylvania Relay Surcharge, Federal Universal Service Fund Surcharge, Local Number Portability Surcharge, Public Safety Emergency Telephone Act (9-1-1) Fee and applicable Federal and State taxes.

   Local service reseller—A LSP that resells another company’s wholesale telephone services to provide local service to customers.

   NANPA—North American Numbering Plan Administration—The organization that holds overall responsibility for the neutral administration of North American telephone numbering resources, subject to directives from regulatory authorities in the countries that share the North American telephone numbering resources. NANPA’s responsibilities include assignment of telephone numbering resources, and, in the United States and its territories, coordination of area code relief planning and collection of utilization and forecast data.

   NSP—Network service provider—A telecommunications provider that interacts with LSPs and provides the facilities and equipment components needed to make up a customer’s telecommunications service. A NSP may be referred to as an underlying carrier, and may also be a LSP.

   Preferred carrier freeze—A designation elected by a customer that restricts a third party’s ability to change a customer’s choice of preferred telecommunication service provider.

   Resale—The term used when a LSP does not have its own facilities, but purchases telecommunications services at wholesale rates to sell to the public. Typically, the telecommunications services are purchased from a NSP.

   UNE—Unbundled network element—Various physical and functional parts of a NSP’s infrastructure that may be leased to another LSP. These components include things such as local switching, local loops, interoffice transmission facilities, signaling and call-related databases, operator services, directory assistance, and the like.

   UNE-L—Local Loop—The telephone line (copper or fiber), that runs from the local telephone company to a customer’s premise. A LSP may own a local switch and lease the local loop from the NSP.

   UNE-P—UNE-Platform—A combination of unbundled network elements that facilitates end-to-end service delivery. A typical arrangement includes at least a local loop and switching.

   Wholesale customer—A LSP that provides local service by resale or by unbundled network elements (with or without platform).

§ 63.303. Pretermination provisions.

 (a)  Wholesale customer billing dispute resolution process. Wholesale customers shall have the opportunity to dispute charges for the provision of service with the NSP. A wholesale customer is obligated to pay amounts not under dispute. Disputes shall be raised by a LSP on a timely basis consistent with the language in applicable interconnection agreements.

   (1)  When disputing NSP charges, the wholesale customer shall provide the NSP with a written dispute notice unless other methods of delivery have been agreed to as part of an interconnection or other governing agreement.

   (2)  The dispute notice must be addressed to the NSP’s designee.

   (3)  The dispute notice must provide the NSP with the amounts that form the grounds for the dispute as well as the specific accounts and bills that are being disputed.

   (4)  Within 5 calendar days of receiving a written dispute notice from a wholesale customer, the NSP shall provide written acknowledgement of the receipt of the notice to the wholesale customer’s contact.

   (5)  Upon receiving a dispute notice from a wholesale customer, the NSP and the wholesale customer shall make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute within 30 calendar days unless a longer dispute resolution period is provided for in an interconnection or other governing agreement. During this dispute resolution period, the NSP may not pursue termination of the wholesale customer’s service unless it is based on other indebtedness that is not disputed.

   (6)  If resolution of the dispute is not achieved to the satisfaction of the NSP and the wholesale customer at the conclusion of the dispute resolution period, either party may file a complaint with the Commission to resolve the dispute.

   (7)  The NSP and the wholesale customer shall seek to file a complaint with the Commission to resolve a billing dispute prior to the time when retail customers are to be notified of the pending abandonment.

   (8)  The NSP may not pursue termination of the wholesale customer’s service while a complaint to resolve the dispute is pending with the Commission unless the termination is based on other indebtedness that is not disputed.

 (b)  NSP payment default resolution process.

   (1)  Prior to a NSP issuing a termination notice to a wholesale customer for a payment default, the NSP shall:

     (i)   Provide the wholesale customer with a written notice of payment default.

     (ii)   Send the default notice by first class mail unless other methods of delivery have been agreed to as a part of the interconnection or other governing agreement or are provided for in an applicable tariff.

     (iii)   Address the default notice to the wholesale customer’s designee.

     (iv)   Send a copy of the default notice to the Secretary of the Commission and to the Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Services.

   (2)  The default notice to a wholesale customer shall include the following:

     (i)   The amount owed that forms the grounds for the payment default as well as the specific accounts and invoices that are in default.

     (ii)   A statement of the terms of the interconnection or other governing agreement that forms the grounds for the NSP’s notification of payment default.

     (iii)   Available methods the wholesale customer may use to cure the payment default.

     (iv)   The NSP’s contact information to be used by the wholesale customer for payment of the NSP’s bill.

   (3)  Allow at least 30 calendar days from the date of the default notice for resolution of the payment default prior to issuing a termination notice. If interconnection or other governing agreements between the NSP and the wholesale customer allow for a longer dispute resolution period prior to the NSP issuing a termination notice, the time periods in the agreement govern.

   (4)  Within 5 calendar days of receiving a written notice of payment default, the wholesale customer shall provide written acknowledgement of the receipt of the notice to the NSP’s contact.

Cross References

   This section cited in 52 Pa. Code §  63.304 (relating to NSP termination process for wholesale customers); and 52 Pa. Code §  63.305 (relating to initiation of abandonment).

§ 63.304. NSP termination process for wholesale customers.

 (a)  Authorized reasons for a NSP to terminate service. A NSP may terminate service to a wholesale customer for one or more of the following reasons:

   (1)  Failure of the wholesale customer to pay an undisputed delinquent amount for services necessary to provide customers with local service when that amount remains unpaid for 30 calendar days or more after the date of the bill unless the bill has been disputed in accordance with the provisions in §  63.303(a) or (b) (relating to pretermination provisions).

   (2)  Failure of the wholesale customer to abide by the terms and conditions of an interconnection or other governing agreement related to the provision of local service that has been approved by the Commission.

   (3)  Failure of the wholesale customer to comply with the terms of a payment agreement related to the provision of local service.

   (4)  Failure of the wholesale customer to comply with a Commission order related to the provision of local service.

 (b)  Unauthorized reasons for a NSP to terminate service. Unless specifically authorized by the Commission, a NSP may not terminate service for the following reasons:

   (1)  Failure of a wholesale customer to pay a charge unrelated to the provision of local service, for example, a charge for a LSP’s own directory advertising in a NSP’s yellow pages directory.

   (2)  Failure of a wholesale customer to pay a charge that was not previously billed prior to the due date of the current bill.

   (3)  Failure of a wholesale customer to pay a charge that is under a payment agreement prior to the date of payment set forth in the agreement.

   (4)  Failure of a wholesale customer to pay a charge that is at issue in a complaint before the Commission unless termination is specifically authorized by the Commission.

 (c)  Termination notice provisions.

   (1)  A NSP shall provide a wholesale customer with a written termination notice at least 45 calendar days prior to the date that the NSP intends to cease providing the service that enables the wholesale customer to serve end-user customers.

   (2)  A NSP shall send the termination notice by first class mail unless other methods of delivery have been agreed to as part of the interconnection or other governing agreement or are provided for in an applicable tariff.

   (3)  A NSP shall address the termination notice to the wholesale customer’s designee.

   (4)  A NSP shall send a copy of the termination notice to the Secretary of the Commission, to the Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Services and the Law Bureau.

   (5)  A termination notice from a NSP to a wholesale customer shall include the following:

     (i)   The date of the notification and reason for termination.

     (ii)   The date services shall be terminated unless payment is received or other mutually acceptable arrangements are made.

     (iii)   The amount owed, if applicable.

     (iv)   A contact telephone number and name for the NSP.

 (d)  Combined default/termination notice provisions. A NSP, when authorized by the provisions of its interconnection or other agreement with a wholesale customer, may provide the wholesale customer with a single notice of default and of termination that specifies that termination shall occur in less than the minimum 75 calendar days provided for in §  63.303 and this section, provided that the termination may not occur in less than the 45-day termination period provided for in subsection (c)(1).

§ 63.305. Initiation of abandonment.

 A LSP shall initiate abandonment of service when a LSP receives a notice from the NSP of a termination of a LSP’s service consistent with the pretermination dispute provisions in §  63.303 (relating to pretermination provisions), when the Commission issues an order to revoke a LSP’s certificate of public convenience or when a LSP has made proper application to the Commission to abandon some or all of a LSP’s local service customers.

   (1)  NSP initiation.

     (i)   A NSP that intends to terminate the service of a LSP that is a wholesale customer and serves residential or business customers shall provide prior notice to the LSP and the Commission electronically and by first class mail unless other methods of delivery have been agreed to as part of the interconnection or other governing agreement between the NSP and the LSP, not less than 45 calendar days in advance of the scheduled termination.

     (ii)   The Commission may require a NSP to extend a LSP’s termination date until the LSP’s customers have been properly notified.

   (2)  Commission initiation. The Commission may initiate the abandonment of a LSP’s service through the issuance of a Commission order that revokes the LSP’s certificate of public convenience.

   (3)  LSP initiation. A LSP may initiate the voluntary abandonment of some or all of its local service customers by filing with the Commission an application to abandon service to some or all of its existing customers. A LSP shall file an application to abandon service at least 35 calendar days prior to the exit date.

§ 63.306. Abandoning LSP obligations for abandonment.

 (a)  General. Upon receiving a termination notice from a NSP, or upon receiving a Commission order notifying a LSP of an effective date for revoking its certificate of public convenience, or upon a LSP’s voluntary filing of an application to abandon service, the abandoning LSP shall make a good faith effort to secure an acquiring LSP to serve the customers it plans to abandon.

 (b)  Abandonment plan. The abandoning LSP shall file an abandonment plan with the Commission at least 35 calendar days in advance of abandoning service. The abandonment plan shall contain the following information:

   (1)  An identification of the telecommunications services, either facilities-based or through resale, to be abandoned or curtailed in the associated service territory.

   (2)  An explanation of reasons for the abandonment of service.

   (3)  A detailed outline of the procedures a LSP shall use to facilitate continuation of service for its affected customers. The abandoning LSP shall demonstrate that the abandonment will not deprive the public of necessary telecommunications services.

   (4)  The notices required by this section.

   (5)  A list of current customers that will be abandoned.

   (6)  The abandonment notice that is to be sent to customers.

   (7)  The beginning and ending dates for the period in which customers are to shop and select a new LSP (customer choice period). Customers shall be allowed up to 20 calendar days after receiving a customer notice of abandonment to shop and select a new LSP.

   (8)  The beginning and ending dates for the customer migration period when the business arrangements are to be completed for the transfer of service to the new LSP. The customer migration period shall immediately follow the customer choice period, allow 10 calendar days for migration, and immediately precede the exit date.

   (9)  A proposed exit date. If the abandonment is initiated by termination by a NSP or by Commission order, the proposed exit date may not be later than the termination date provided by the NSP or the date the certificate of public convenience is to be revoked.

   (10)  Contact names and telephone numbers for a LSP’s program manager, the regulatory contact and other pertinent contacts, for example, the contact for customer service records (CSR) or provisioning contacts.

   (11)  If applicable, the arrangements made for an acquiring carrier.

   (12)  The procedures to be taken with NANPA to transfer NXX codes or thousand number blocks (if applicable) while preserving number portability for numbers within the code.

   (13)  The name of the NSP and the current customer serving arrangements, for example, UNE-P, resale, UNE-L or Full Facilities.

   (14)  A list of customer names and contact information when the abandoning LSP is the only provider of facilities to a customer or group of customers.

   (15)  The number of customers to be impacted by the abandonment.

   (16)  The details of a transfer of assets or control that requires Commission approval under 66 Pa.C.S. §  1102(a)(3) (relating to enumeration of acts requiring certificate).

   (17)  A request to modify or cancel tariffs.

   (18)  A plan for processing customer deposits, credits and termination liabilities or penalties.

   (19)  A plan for unlocking the E-9-1-1 records.

   (20)  A plan for maintaining toll-free telephone access to an abandoning LSP’s call center (including customer service and billing records) so that a customer is able to contact the LSP to inquire about or dispute final bills and refunds.

 (c)  Transfer of customers’ 9-1-1/E-9-1-1 records.

   (1)  Transfers to a new LSP. An abandoning LSP shall unlock all of its telephone numbers in the 9-1-1/E-9-1-1 records to provide a new LSP with access to the abandoning LSP’s customers’ 9-1-1/E-9-1-1 records. The abandoning LSP shall unlock the 9-1-1/E-9-1-1 records in compliance with the National Emergency Numbering Association’s (NENA) recommended data standards for service providers going out of business.

   (2)  Transfers after abandonment. An abandoning LSP shall submit a letter to the appropriate 9-1-1/E-9-1-1 service provider authorizing the 9-1-1/E-9-1-1 service provider to unlock remaining 9-1-1/E-9-1-1 records after the LSP has abandoned the market. The abandoning LSP shall provide this letter at least 30 days prior to abandoning the market.

 (d)  Notification to the industry and NANPA.

   (1)  Industry abandonment notice. An abandoning LSP shall provide written notice to:

     (i)   Telecommunications corporations providing the abandoning LSP with essential facilities or services or UNEs that affect the abandoning LSP’s customers.

     (ii)   Telecommunications corporations providing the abandoning LSP with resold telecommunications services, if resold service is part of the telecommunications services provided to the abandoning LSP’s affected customers.

   (2)  NANPA abandonment notice. An abandoning LSP which has NXX or thousand block number resources from NANPA shall provide written notice to NANPA identifying and authorizing the release of all of its used and unused number resources to an acquiring carrier, other LSPs or NANPA, as applicable. When number resources are to be released to an acquiring carrier, the notice to NANPA shall be provided at least 35 days prior to the abandoning LSP’s exit date.

   (3)  The notice shall include identification of all working telephone numbers assigned to the customers, identification of all unassigned or administrative numbers available for reassignment to other providers and the date the unassigned telephone numbers shall be available for reassignment.

   (4)  The abandoning LSP shall authorize the release of each individually assigned customer telephone number to the subsequent provider selected by the customer. The abandoning LSP may not abandon NXX codes or thousand block numbers if a number within the relevant range of numbers has not been completely ported.

 (e)  Abandoning LSP notification to customers.

   (1)  The abandoning LSP (and acquiring LSP if applicable) shall notify customers by letter at least 30 calendar days in advance of the exit date.

   (2)  The abandoning LSP shall provide customers with a list of all services (for example—local basic, regional toll and long distance toll) that the abandoning LSP is currently providing to the customer that will no longer be provided as of the exit date. The abandoning LSP shall direct customers to choose a new LSP to obtain whatever services they wish to have going forward.

   (3)  The abandoning LSP shall lift all existing preferred carrier freezes on the services to be abandoned.

   (4)  The notice of pending abandonment of service to residential and business customers shall contain the following:

     (i)   A printed message on the envelope and the notice containing the words ‘‘Important Notice, Loss of Local Telephone Service’’ printed in bold letters with a font size of at least 14 points, conspicuously displayed on the front of the envelope to attract the attention of the reader.

     (ii)   A statement on the notice: ‘‘At this time, (LSP name) provides you with local telephone service, (list other services provided by the LSP that will no longer be provided upon abandonment of local service).’’

     (iii)   A statement on the notice: ‘‘As of (the exit date) (LSP name) will no longer provide your local telephone service and you must take action.’’

     (iv)   A statement on the notice: ‘‘To prevent the loss of your local telephone service, you must select another local telephone service provider on or before (list a specific date 10 calendar days prior to the exit date). If you act by this date there will be enough time for the new local service provider you choose to start your new service before your current service ends.’’

     (v)   A statement on the notice: ‘‘Please remember that customers may choose the provider of their local telephone service. You may select any company that is offering service in your area.’’ Customers shall be notified that they can check their telephone directory yellow pages under ‘‘telephone service providers’’ or in the front of the directory under the heading of ‘‘other local phone companies’’ for information about LSPs serving their area.

     (vi)   If the abandoning LSP has arranged for an acquiring LSP to serve customers, the abandoning LSP customer notice provisions shall reflect these arrangements. Specifically, the written notice to customers shall be a joint notice from the abandoning and acquiring LSPs. The joint notice shall be sent to customers in an envelope from the abandoning LSP. The joint notice shall inform customers that they may select any LSP that serves their area by (date of the end of customer choice period) or they may take no action and their service will be transferred to the acquiring LSP no later than (exit date). The joint notice shall also include information about the acquiring LSP’s rates and terms and conditions of service.

     (vii)   A statement on the notice: ‘‘This is an important notice (the word ‘‘important’’ in bold) about the loss of your local telephone service. If you have any questions, need more information or have problems with changing your services, contact (LSP contact information including a toll-free telephone number).’’

     (viii)   Information to customers outlining the procedure for obtaining refunds of credits and deposits, obtaining final bills and addressing questions or complaints.

     (ix)   Customers who had preferred carrier freezes on their accounts shall be directed to contact their new LSP to arrange for new preferred carrier freezes if they wish to have this protection going forward.

§ 63.307. Abandonment process management.

 (a)  The abandoning LSP shall appoint a program manager to coordinate the abandonment process. The program manager shall be selected from the abandoning LSP or, if applicable, the acquiring LSP.

 (b)  The program manager shall be accountable to each of the parties involved in the abandonment. The individual parties involved in the migration may be:

   (1)  The abandoning LSP.

   (2)  The acquiring LSP.

   (3)  The abandoning LSP’s customers.

   (4)  The Commission.

 (c)  The parties involved in the abandonment shall appoint a project manager who will work with the program manager to ensure that the abandonment process flows in a seamless manner.

§ 63.308. Commission consideration and action.

 (a)  The Commission will post information of an impending abandonment on its website at www.puc.state.pa.us under ‘‘Local Service Telephone Provider Abandonment Notification.’’

 (b)  If necessary, Commission staff may establish an industry conference call to address potential problem areas and procedures with the abandoning LSP, as well as with the acquiring or other LSPs as applicable.

§ 63.309. Acquiring LSP provisions and obligations.

 (a)  An abandoning LSP and acquiring LSP may change the customer’s local service provider without being considered to have engaged in slamming if the customer has not selected another LSP during the 20-day customer choice period and the acquiring LSP does not change a customer’s preferred interexchange carrier designation without the customer’s authorization. This provision does not relieve the abandoning LSP or the acquiring LSP of any requirements imposed by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) antislamming rules or State rules in §  64.23(b) (relating to standardizing LEC responses to customer contacts alleging unauthorized charges added to the customer’s bill (cramming) and unauthorized changes to the customer’s long distance carrier (slamming)).

 (b)  If an acquiring LSP determines that it will be unable to migrate service to a customer by the abandoning LSP’s exit date, the acquiring LSP shall notify the Commission, the customer and the abandoning LSP within 24 hours of the determination. If the customer is unable to select another available LSP, the abandoning LSP shall continue to provide service until the date on which a LSP is able to provide service or a date ordered by the Commission, whichever is earlier.

§ 63.310. Abandoning LSP follow-up obligations.

 (a)  An abandoning LSP shall track the progress of migrations and provide Commission staff with progress reports on the number of customers that have and have not migrated to a new LSP. The frequency of the updates will vary with the magnitude of the mass migration and will be determined by the Commission on a case by case basis.

 (b)  An abandoning LSP shall send a second abandonment notice to a customer who is not subject to acquisition by another LSP and has not taken action to select a new LSP. The second abandonment notice shall be sent after consultation with the Commission. The form of the second notice is left to the discretion of the abandoning LSP and may be the following:

   (1)  First class mail.

   (2)  A telephone call.

   (3)  A bill insert.

   (4)  Any other means of direct contact with the customer.



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