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Computer Inquiry III

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Citation Edit

Computer Inquiry III, Amendment of Section 64.702 of the Commission's Rules and Regulations (Third Computer Inquiry): Report & Order, 104 F.C.C.2d 958, 1986 WL 292006 (1986), reconsideration, Phase I Reconsideration Order, 2 F.C.C.R. 3035, 1987 WL 345279 (1987), further reconsideration, Order on Further Reconsideration, 3 F.C.C.R. 1135, 1988 WL 487742 (1988), second further reconsideration, Order on Second Further Reconsideration, 4 F.C.C.R. 5927, 1989 WL 512561 (1989), Report & Order and Phase I Reconsideration Order, vacated sub nom. California v. F.C.C., 905 F.2d 1217 (9th Cir. 1990) (full-text), decision on remand, Computer III Remand Proceedings: Report and Order, 5 F.C.C.R. 7719, 1990 WL 603216 (1990).

Overview Edit

"Years after the conclusion of the Computer II proceeding,[1] the Commission determined that the cost of decreased efficiency and innovation imposed by the structural safeguards of Computer II outweighed their benefits.[2] The Commission therefore replaced structural separation with a regime of nonstructural safeguards in its Computer [Inquiry] III decisions. This framework maintained the existing basic and enhanced service categories and adopted comparably efficient interconnection (CEI) and ONA requirements as a replacement for the Computer II structural separation requirements for AT&T and the BOCs.[3] The CEI standards were intended to be an interim measure, necessary only until the BOCs had Commission-approved ONA plans in place.[4]

The CEI obligations require a BOC's enhanced services operations to take under tariff the basic services it uses in offering enhanced services.[5] These basic services must be available to other enhanced service providers and users under the same tariffs on an unbundled and functionally equal basis. In addition, the BOC may not discriminate in favor of its own enhanced services operations in providing CEI and must file reports to substantiate that nondiscrimination.[6] BOCs also must post service-specific CEI plans on the Internet[7] (i.e., one CEI plan per service or group of services) that describe and demonstrate how a BOC is providing unaffiliated enhanced service providers with equal access to its basic services by its compliance with nine CEI parameters.[8]

Unlike CEI plans, ONA plans apply to enhanced services generally and impose more specific and comprehensive unbundling requirements on the BOCs, not unlike section 251's unbundling obligations. Through ONA, BOCs must separate key components of their basic services into “basic service elements,” and make those components, or building blocks, available to unaffiliated enhanced service providers to build new services regardless of whether the BOC's affiliated enhanced services operations use these unbundled components.[9] In refining its rules for filing ONA plans, the Commission subsequently categorized the BOCs' “basic service elements” into four groups, which the BOCs are required to make available to information services providers.[10] In a subsequent order, the Commission also determined that certain operations support systems (OSS) capabilities — namely service order entry and status; trouble reporting and status; diagnostics, monitoring, testing, and network reconfiguration; and traffic data collection — are ONA services under the Commission's ONA rules.[11] Finally, the ONA rules contain certain procedural requirements governing the amendment of ONA plans. These procedures allow information service providers to request and receive new ONA services and impose various annual, semiannual, and quarterly reporting requirements.[12]

References Edit

  1. Between the release of the Computer II Final Decision and the Computer III Phase I Order, the D.C. District Court approved the Modification of Final Judgment (MFJ), which required AT&T to divest itself of the BOCs and most of the assets held by the BOCs. See United States v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 552 F. Supp. 131 (D.D.C. 1982) (full-text), aff'd sub nom. Maryland v. United States, 460 U.S. 1001 (1983) (full-text). When the Computer III non-structural safeguards were initially adopted, they applied only to AT&T and the BOCs as they were the only carriers subject to Computer II structural separation requirements. The Commission eliminated most of these requirements for AT&T when it declared AT&T non-dominant in 1995.
  2. See Computer III Phase I Order, 104 FCC 2d at 964, ¶3.
  3. Id. at 964, ¶4. The Commission also adopted rules relating to customer proprietary network information (CPNI), network disclosure, and cost allocation. Id. at 1077-92, ¶¶241-65 (network disclosure and CPNI obligations); "Separation of Costs of Regulated Telephone Service from Costs of Nonregulated Activities," CC Docket No. 86-111, Report and Order, 2 FCC Rcd 1298 (1986) (Joint Cost Order), recon. 2 FCC Rcd 6283, further recon. 3 FCC Rcd 6701 (1988), aff'd sub nom. Southwestern Bell Corp. v. Federal Comm. Comm'n, 896 F.2d 1328 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (cost allocation rules). In a series of subsequent orders, the Commission eliminated or scaled back several of these requirements. See, e.g., "Computer III Further Remand Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 4318-23, ¶¶44-53 (1999) (relieving carriers of their Computer Inquiry network information disclosure requirements except with respect to the customer premises equipment (CPE) disclosure obligation as applied to incumbent LECs).
  4. "Computer III Phase I Order," 104 FCC 2d at 964; "Computer III Phase I Order," 104 FCC 2d at 964, ¶4.
  5. "Computer III Further Remand Order," 14 FCC Rcd at 4297-98, ¶13. We note that SBC's advanced services affiliate provides basic services under contracts posted on the Internet, rather than under tariffs, but these services are nevertheless made generally available to the public. See "Review of Regulatory Requirements for Incumbent LEC Broadband Telecommunications Services," 17 FCC Rcd 27000 (2003) (SBC Advanced Services Forbearance Order).
  6. Computer III Phase I Order, 104 FCC 2d at 964, ¶4.
  7. "Computer III Further Remand Order," 14 FCC Rcd at 4291, ¶4; "Computer III Further Remand Reconsideration Order," 14 FCC Rcd at 21629, ¶6.
  8. "Computer III Further Remand Order," 14 FCC Rcd at 4291, ¶4; "Computer III Further Remand Reconsideration Order," 14 FCC Rcd at 21629, ¶6; see "Computer III Phase I Order," 104 FCC 2d at 1039-42, ¶¶155-65. These nine CEI parameters are: (1) the “interface functionality” parameter (the BOC must make available standardized hardware and software interfaces that are able to support the transmission, switching, and signaling functions identical to those used in the BOC's enhanced service, as well as the information and technical specifications associated with these interfaces); (2) the “basic service unbundling” parameter (the BOC must separate the basic service functions that underlie its enhanced service offering from other basic service offerings and must assign a specific rate to them for tariffing purposes); (3) the “resale” parameter (the BOC must “take” basic services used in its enhanced service offerings at their unbundled tariffed rates); (4) the “technical characteristics” parameter (the BOC must provide basic services with technical characteristics that are equal to those used by the BOC in its enhanced service offering); (5) the installation, maintenance and repair parameter (the BOC must provide the same installation, maintenance, and repair intervals to unaffiliated enhanced service providers as it does to its own enhanced services operations, with associated reporting requirements); (6) the end-user access parameter (if a BOC offers its end users the ability to use abbreviated dialing or signaling to activate or access the BOC's enhanced offerings, it must provide the same capabilities to all end users of enhanced services that use the BOC's facilities); (7) the “CEI availability” parameter (the BOC's CEI plan must be available and fully operational the day that the BOC posts it on the Internet, and the BOC must give enhanced services competitors the opportunity to test the CEI facilities and services for their enhanced service offerings); (8) the transport costs minimization parameter (the BOC must provide competitors with interconnection facilities that minimize their transport costs); and (9) the “recipients of CEI” parameter (the BOC cannot restrict the availability of a CEI offering to any particular class of customer or enhanced service competitor). "Computer III Further Remand Order," 14 FCC Rcd at 4297-99, ¶13.
  9. Computer III Phase I Order, 104 FCC 2d at 1064, ¶214.
  10. These four groups are: (1) basic serving arrangements (BSAs), which are fundamental tariffed switching and transport services that allow the ISP to communicate with its customers through the BOC network, see "Filing and Review of Open Network Architecture Plans," 4 FCC Rcd 1, 36, ¶56 (1988) (BOC ONA Order) (noting that examples of BSAs include line-side and trunk-side circuit-switched service and line-side and trunk-side packet-switched service); (2) basic service elements (BSEs), which are optional unbundled features that an ISP may require or find useful in configuring an enhanced service, see id., 4 FCC Rcd at 36, ¶57 (providing calling number identification as an example of a BSE); (3) complementary network services (CSAs), which are optional unbundled basic service features that an end user may obtain from a carrier in order to access or receive an enhanced service such as call waiting and call forwarding, see id. (stating that stutter dial tone is a CNS); and (4) ancillary network services (ANSs), which are non-common carrier services that an ISP might find useful such as billing and collection, and protocol conversion, see id.
  11. "Filing and Review of Open Network Architecture Plans," 5 FCC Rcd 3084, 3087, ¶26 (1990) (BOC ONA Reconsideration Order).
  12. "Computer III Phase I Order," 104 FCC 2d at 1066, ¶218. In 1991, the Commission determined that the BOCs' ONA plans were a sufficient enough safeguard against discrimination to warrant elimination of the Computer II structural separation requirement for all enhanced services, notwithstanding their failure to comply fully with the Computer III rules. "BOC Safeguards Order," 6 FCC Rcd at 7599-7601, ¶¶62-64. In this same order, the Commission determined that its cost accounting safeguards, in addition to adoption of price cap regulation for the LECs, was a sufficient enough safeguard against cross-subsidization to warrant elimination of structural separation. Id. at 7577-88, ¶¶12-41. In 1994, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the cross-subsidization determination in the "BOC Safeguards Order," but vacated and remanded the portion addressing ONA plans because it found that the Commission had not sufficiently explained its conclusion that removing structural separation requirements was in the public interest, given that the ONA requirements the Commission implemented after Computer III did not require fundamental unbundling of the BOCs' networks. See "California III," 39 F.3d at 927-30 (citing "BOC Safeguards Order,' 6 FCC Rcd at 7571). In 1995, the Commission clarified that the Ninth Circuit's partial vacatur of the "BOC Safeguards Order" reinstated the CEI plan requirements and that the BOCs were still required to comply with their ONA plans pending the Commission's review of the ONA regime. Computer III Further Remand Notice, 10 FCC Rcd at 8369, para. 11. The Commission also determined that the BOCs could continue to offer existing enhanced services pursuant to the ONA plans that the Commission had approved prior to the Ninth Circuit's decision in "California III." See "Computer III Further Remand Notice, 10 FCC Rcd at 8368-69, ¶10 (citing "Bell Operating Companies' Joint Petition for Waiver of Computer II Rules," Memorandum Opinion and Order, DA 95-36 (Com. Car. Bur. Jan. 11, 1995) (Interim Waiver Order)).

Source Edit

  • In the Matters of Appropriate Framework for Broadband Access to the Internet Over Wireline Facilities, 20 FCC Rcd. 14853, 14869-71 (2005).

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