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KFR Updates

April 2017

Changes on Tap at the Republican-Led FCC

About ten weeks into the Trump administration, little public attention has been focused on communications, the internet, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But outside the media spotlight, changes are more quietly taking place at the FCC and speculation is growing on what affect the now Republican-led Commission will have on recent controversial rules, particularly "net neutrality".
 
Commissioner Ajit Pai was nominated by President Trump to Chair the Commission, and was subsequently re-nominated for his second five-year term at the FCC in March. Pai is expected to take a more "hands-off" approach to regulation than his Obama-appointed predecessor, Tom Wheeler. In fact, he's been quoted as saying we need to "fire up the weed wacker" to remove regulations that are stifling investment and innovation. First on the chopping block is likely to be net neutrality.
 
The FCC adopted net neutrality rules in 2015 that prevent internet service providers from giving any specific content preferential treatment. Pai, and the other remaining Republican Commissioner, Michael O'Reilly, voted against the controversial rules. While Pai can't simply eliminate those regulations, he has taken early steps that may foreshadow the future of net neutrality.
 
Under Wheeler, the FCC was reviewing so-called "Zero-Rate" plans where mobile service providers offer free access to certain applications or services. For example, AT&T offers access to content provided by its affiliate, DirectTV at a "zero rate", meaning the data usage for DirectTV content does not count towards subscribers' data usage caps. The 2015 net neutrality rules left the door open for the FCC to determine how to handle "zero-rating" on a case-by-case basis. But shortly into his Chairmanship, Pai closed the FCC's investigations into wireless carriers' free-data offerings, taking a more hands-off approach towards regulation and moving instead to let the marketplace determine what plans are viable.
 
Should Pai take steps to repeal net neutrality, resistance by those in favor of the rules is expected to be fierce. While the 2015 rules were being defined and ultimately voted on, extensive lobbying and even public demonstrations took place. Net neutrality advocates are not likely to watch the rules be repealed without a fight.
 
Look for this and other changes at the FCC, as sweeping reforms are proposed throughout many parts of the federal government.



Numbering Plan Updates

California: New NPA 279 has been assigned for relief in Northern California where the current 916 area code is reaching exhaustion. The earliest activation date for central office codes in NPA 279 is March 10, 2018. The dialing plan in this area includes 1+ 10-digits for local and toll calls to within the NPA, and to all other NPAs. Permissive 1+10-digit dialing begins August 12, 2017. Mandatory 1+10-digit dialing begins February 10, 2018.

Canada: Area code 709 serving Newfoundland and Labrador will be provided relief through a distributed overlay NPA. The new NPA, 879, will be implemented on November 24, 2018. At that time, local calls in the area must be dialed with 10-digits and toll calls must be dialed with 1+10-digits.
 
Similarly, the area code overlay complex of 418/581 serving Quebec is in need of relief. New area code 367 has been assigned for this purpose and will be added as an additional distributed overlay in this area. Area code 367 will implemented as of November 24, 2018.

New York: The in-service date for new area code 332 is June 10, 2017.   As previously announced, NPA 332 is being added to the existing NPA overlay-complex of 212/646/917 in New York City.

Pennsylvania: As we previously reported, NPA 223 has been approved as an all-services overlay for the existing NPA 717 covering the south-central portion of the state. Implementation dates have now been set. Beginning August 26, 2017, all calls within NPA 717 (and within NPA 223, when activated) must be dialed with 10 digits. Calls to other NPAs must be dialed with 1+10-digits. The earliest activation of central office codes in the 223 NPA is September 26, 2017.

 
KFR News