The Commission may have only three sitting Commissioners, but that didn’t stop them from unanimously adopting new number portability provisions in a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (R&O/FNPRM) released May 13, 2009.  In the R&O portion of the decision, the Commission reduced the porting interval for simple wireline and simple intermodal port requests. Under the new rules, all entities subject to local number portability rules must complete simple wireline-to-wireline and simple intermodal port requests within one business day. (“Intermodal ports” here include wireline-to-wireless ports, wireless-to-wireline ports, and ports involving interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service.)

Previously, such simple wireline port requests had to be completed within four business days. However, the wireless industry has established a voluntary standard of two and one-half hours for wireless-to-wireless ports, and the Commission saw no good reason why wireline-to-wireline requests could not also be completed within one business day for most carriers. Furthermore, a shorter porting requirement would help consumers by shortening wait times and increasing the benefits of local number portability provisions.

The Commission also directed the North American Number Council (NANC) – which coordinates number issues for carriers – to develop a number of new procedures within 90 days after the effective date of the Order to implement the new rules. In particular, NANC must now define “business day” for purposes of the porting interval, and it also has to come up with a means of measuring porting time. Within nine months after the NANC submits its revised provisioning flows to the Commission, all providers (except small providers) will be required to comply with the one-business day porting interval.  “Small providers” here means entities with fewer than two percent of the nation’s subscriber lines installed in the aggregate nationwide and Tier III wireless carriers (CMRS carriers with 500,000 subscribers or fewer as of the end of 2001).  Small providers will have 15 months from the date that NANC submits its revised provisioning flows to the Commission within which to implement the new porting interval requirements.

Carriers may apply for waivers of the one-business day porting interval. The Commission has delegated authority to the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, to deal with such requests on a case-by-case basis. Waiver requests must show with particularity that it would be unduly economically burdensome for the provider to comply with the shortened porting deadline. The showing should address the number of porting requests the carrier typically receives on a monthly basis and the specific costs of complying with the shortened time interval. Upon consideration of a waiver request, the Bureau may impose a porting interval requirement of one to four business days.

In the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking portion of the decision, the Commission has requested comments on what further steps it should take to improve the process of changing providers. It’s also looking for any new ideas that reflect and build on the new requirements just adopted. Comments are request 30 days and reply comments 60 days after publication of the R&O/FNPRM in the Federal Register.