Thursday, September 4, 2008

FCC Grants Forbearance from Legacy Service Quality Reporting

The FCC has decided to grant significant forbearance to AT&T and other legacy carriers who are obliged to file Automated Reporting Management Information System (ARMIS) reports. The ARMIS reports provide data on a service quality and certain network infrastructure metrics.

The FCC Commission said it will continue to seek access to the data necessary for public safety and broadband policymaking, and that certain infrastructure and operating data might be useful, but only if collected on an industry-wide basis. Therefore, the FCC is seeking public comment on whether such data should be collected from all relevant providers in furtherance of those goals. Similarly, certain service quality and
customer satisfaction data might be useful, but only if collected on an industry-wide basis. The FCC is also seeking comment on whether it should collect such data on an industry-wide basis.

In addition, the FCC has decided to extend to Verizon and Qwest the conditional forbearance granted to AT&T in the AT&T Cost
Assignment Forbearance Order.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin stated: "Today, we take another step to remove unnecessary regulatory burdens and ensure a regulatory level playing field. We eliminate outdated reporting requirements that applied to a small class of carriers, retaining only those requirements that still serve a useful regulatory purpose. And if the Commission does believe specific information is needed in today's competitive marketplace, then we should collect that information from all industry players rather than a handful of carriers. Therefore, we initiate a proceeding to determine whether and how to collect such information across all platforms."

In a separate statement, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said: "The collection and analysis of solid communications-related data is a linchpin in the Commission's ability to make sound decisions and provide useful guidance and assistance to consumers, states, industry-participants and other stakeholders. That is why it has been so troubling to see in to many instances the Commission headed down the road of collecting less data. Now we are confronted with forbearance requests by carriers seeking relief from the responsibility of collecting and reporting service quality, customer satisfaction, and infrastructure and operating data pursuant to the Commission's ARMIS reporting rules."

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