(a)Definitions. As used in this section, the following definitions apply:
(1)Competing provider. A “competing provider” is a provider of telephone exchange or telephone toll services that seeks nondiscriminatory access from a local exchange carrier (LEC) in that LEC's service area.
(2)Nondiscriminatory access. “Nondiscriminatory access” refers to access to telephone numbers, operator services, directory assistance and directory listings that is at least equal to the access that the providing local exchange carrier (LEC) itself receives. Nondiscriminatory access includes, but is not limited to:
(i) Nondiscrimination between and among carriers in the rates, terms, and conditions of the access provided; and
(ii) The ability of the competing provider to obtain access that is at least equal in quality to that of the providing LEC.
(3)Providing local exchange carrier (LEC). A “providing local exchange carrier” is a local exchange carrier (LEC) that is required to permit nondiscriminatory access to a competing provider.
(b)General rule. A local exchange carrier (LEC) that provides operator services, directory assistance services or directory listings to its customers, or provides telephone numbers, shall permit competing providers of telephone exchange service or telephone toll service to have nondiscriminatory access to that service or feature, with no unreasonable dialing delays.
(c)Specific requirements. A LEC subject to paragraph (b) of this section must also comply with the following requirements:
(1)Telephone numbers. A LEC shall permit competing providers to have access to telephone numbers that is identical to the access that the LEC provides to itself.
(2)Operator services. A LEC must permit telephone service customers to connect to the operator services offered by that customer's chosen local service provider by dialing “0,” or “0” plus the desired telephone number, regardless of the identity of the customer's local telephone service provider.
(3)Directory assistance services and directory listings—
(i)Access to directory assistance. A LEC shall permit competing providers to have access to its directory assistance services, including directory assistance databases, so that any customer of a competing provider can obtain directory listings, except as provided in paragraph (c)(3)(iv) of this section, on a nondiscriminatory basis, notwithstanding the identity of the customer's local service provider, or the identity of the provider for the customer whose listing is requested. A LEC must supply access to directory assistance in the manner specified by the competing provider, including transfer of the LECs' directory assistance databases in readily accessible magnetic tape, electronic or other convenient format, as provided in paragraph (c)(3)(iii) of this section. Updates to the directory assistance database shall be made in the same format as the initial transfer (unless the requesting LEC requests otherwise), and shall be performed in a timely manner, taking no longer than those made to the providing LEC's own database. A LEC shall accept the listings of those customers served by competing providers for inclusion in its directory assistance/operator services databases.
(ii)Access to directory listings. A LEC that compiles directory listings shall share directory listings with competing providers in the manner specified by the competing provider, including readily accessible tape or electronic formats, as provided in paragraph (c)(3)(iii) of this section. Such data shall be provided in a timely fashion.
(iii)Format. A LEC shall provide access to its directory assistance services, including directory assistance databases, and to its directory listings in any format the competing provider specifies, if the LEC's internal systems can accommodate that format.
(A) If a LEC's internal systems do not permit it provide directory assistance or directory listings in the format the specified by the competing provider, the LEC shall:
(1) Within thirty days of receiving the request, inform the competing provider that the requested format cannot be accommodated and tell the requesting provider which formats can be accommodated; and
(2) Provide the requested directory assistance or directory listings in the format the competing provider chooses from among the available formats.
(iv)Unlisted numbers. A LEC shall not provide access to unlisted telephone numbers, or other information that its customer has asked the LEC not to make available, with the exception of customer name and address. The LEC shall ensure that access is permitted to the same directory information, including customer name and address, that is available to its own directory assistance customers.
(v)Adjuncts to services. Operator services and directory assistance services must be made available to competing providers in their entirety, including access to any adjunct features (e.g., rating tables or customer information databases) necessary to allow competing providers full use of these services.
(d)Branding of operator services and directory assistance services. The refusal of a providing local exchange carrier (LEC) to comply with the reasonable request of a competing provider that the providing LEC rebrand its operator services and directory assistance, or remove its brand from such services, creates a presumption that the providing LEC is unlawfully restricting access to its operator services and directory assistance. The providing LEC can rebut this presumption by demonstrating that it lacks the capability to comply with the competing provider's request.
(1)Disputes involving nondiscriminatory access. In disputes involving nondiscriminatory access to operator services, directory assistance services, or directory listings, a providing LEC shall bear the burden of demonstrating with specificity:
(i) That it is permitting nondiscriminatory access, and
(ii) That any disparity in access is not caused by factors within its control. “Factors within its control” include, but are not limited to, physical facilities, staffing, the ordering of supplies or equipment, and maintenance.
(2)Disputes involving unreasonable dialing delay. In disputes between providing local exchange carriers (LECs) and competing providers involving unreasonable dialing delay in the provision of access to operator services and directory assistance, the burden of proof is on the providing LEC to demonstrate with specificity that it is processing the calls of the competing provider's customers on terms equal to that of similar calls from the providing LEC's own customers.
At 64 FR 51911, Sept. 27, 1999, § 51.217 was amended by revising paragraph (c)(3). This paragraph contains information collection and recordkeeping requirements and will not become effective until approval has been given by the Office of Management and Budget.
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