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     Federal Communications Commission FCC 01-26

    Before the

    Federal Communications Commission

    Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of )

     )

    Deployment of Wireline Services Offering CC Docket No. 98-147 )

    Advanced Telecommunications Capability )

     )

    And )

     )

    Implementation of the Local Competition CC Docket No. 96-98 )

    Provisions of the )

    Telecommunications Act of 1996 )

    THIRD REPORT AND ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

    IN CC DOCKET NO. 98-147

    FOURTH REPORT AND ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

    IN CC DOCKET NO. 96-98

    THIRD FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

    IN CC DOCKET NO. 98-147

    SIXTH FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

    IN CC DOCKET NO. 96-98

     Adopted: January 19, 2001 Released: January 19, 2001

Comment Date: 21 days after Federal Register publication of this Further Notice

    Reply Comment Date: 35 days after Federal Register publication of this Further Notice

By the Commission:

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Paragraph

    I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................... 1

    II. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.............................................................................................. 2

    III. BACKGROUND ............................................................................................................. 5

    IV. DISCUSSION ................................................................................................................. 7

    A. Line Sharing Issues ............................................................................................... 7

    1. Definition of High Frequency Portion of the Loop ........................................... 7

    2. Line Splitting ................................................................................................. 14

    3. Access to the Loop Facility for Testing Purposes ........................................... 27

     Federal Communications Commission FCC 01-26

    4. Conditioning Loops Over 18,000 Feet ........................................................... 33

    5. Rural Telephone Companies and Line Sharing Requirements ......................... 38

    6. Line Sharing Deployment Schedule................................................................ 42

    B. Spectrum Management Issues ............................................................................. 45

    1. Presumption that a Technology is Acceptable for Deployment

    Anywhere ............................................................................................... 45

    2. Disposition of Interfering Technologies ......................................................... 50

V. THIRD FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING IN CC DOCKET

    NO. 98-147 AND SIXTH FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

     IN CC DOCKET NO. 96-98 ...................................................................................... 55

    A. Background ........................................................................................................ 55

    B. Discussion .......................................................................................................... 56 VI. PROCEDURAL MATTERS.......................................................................................... 65

    A. Ex Parte Presentations ........................................................................................ 65

    B. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis ........................................................... 66

    C. Initial Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis ........................................................... 67

    D. Comment Filing Procedures ................................................................................ 68 VII. ORDERING CLAUSES ................................................................................................ 74 Appendix A: ............................................................................................................................ NA

    Appendix B: Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis ............................................................... 1

    A. Need for and Objectives of the Proposed Rules..................................................... 2

    B. Legal Basis ........................................................................................................... 3

    C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities Affected ...................... 4

    D. Description of Projected Reporting, Record Keeping, and Other

    Compliance Requirements .................................................................................. 13

    E. Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities

    and Significant Alternatives Considered .............................................................. 15

     F. Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed

    Rules .................................................................................................................. 17

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     Federal Communications Commission FCC 01-26

    I. INTRODUCTION

    1. This reconsideration Order addresses five petitions for reconsideration and/or clarification of our Line Sharing Order, in which we required incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) to make a portion of their voice customer’s local loop available to competing providers of 1 For the reasons set forth below, we deny two of these petitions, and grant, to advanced services.

    the extent described herein, three of these petitions. We also clarify our rules with regard to an incumbent LEC’s obligation to provide line sharing in those instances in which the loop is served by a remote terminal, and we seek comment in a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the technical and economic issues associated with implementing this requirement. II. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    2. We take several actions in this Reconsideration Order with respect to line sharing, including:

    ; Definition of High Frequency Portion of the Loop. We clarify that the requirement to

    provide line sharing applies to the entire loop, even where the incumbent LEC has

    deployed fiber in the loop, (e.g., where the loop is served by a remote terminal).

    ; Line Splitting. To the extent described herein, we grant AT&T and WorldCom’s

    request for clarification that incumbent LECs must permit competing carriers

    providing voice service using the UNE-platform to self-provision or partner with a

    data carrier in order to provide voice and data service on the same line.

    ; Access to the Loop Facility for Testing Purposes. We deny Bell Atlantic’s request for

    clarification that data carriers participating in line sharing arrangements are not

    required to have access to the loop’s entire frequency range for testing purposes.

    ; Conditioning Loops Over 18,000 Feet. We deny Bell Atlantic’s request that we

    reconsider the requirement that incumbent LECs refusing to condition a loop

    demonstrate to the relevant state commission that conditioning the specific loop in

    question will significantly degrade voiceband services.

    ; Rural Telephone Companies. We grant the petition of NTCA and NRTA for

    clarification regarding the line sharing obligations of rural incumbent LECs.

    ; Line Sharing Deployment Schedule. We reject Bell Atlantic’s contention that the

     1 Deployment of Wireline Services Offering Telecommunications Capability and Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Third Report and Order in CC Docket No. 98-147,

    Fourth Report and Order in CC Docket No. 96-98, 14 FCC Rcd 20912 (1999) (Line Sharing Order). The Line

    Sharing Order was released December 9, 1999. The petitions were filed by AT&T Corp. (AT&T), Bell Atlantic, BellSouth Corp. (BellSouth), MCI WorldCom, Inc. (WorldCom), and the National Telephone Cooperative Association/National Rural Telephone Association (NTCA and NRTA) on February 9, 2000. Bell Atlantic is now known as Verizon, but filed as Bell Atlantic at the time reconsideration petitions were due.

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     Federal Communications Commission FCC 01-26

    industry is permitted to adopt a line sharing deployment schedule other than the one

    developed in the Line Sharing Order.

    3. We also take several actions concerning spectrum management, including:

    ; Presumption that a Technology is Acceptable for Deployment Anywhere. We deny

    BellSouth’s request that the Commission reconsider its finding that new technologies

    are presumed deployable anywhere when successfully deployed in one state without

    significantly degrading the performance of other services.

    ; Disposition of Interfering Technologies. We deny Bell Atlantic’s request to reconsider

    our conclusion that state commissions are in the best position to determine the

    disposition of known disturbers in the network.

    4. In addition, we adopt a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the 2 and Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Local Advanced Services docket3Competition docket, in which we request comment on issues that have been raised with respect to line sharing where an incumbent LEC has deployed fiber in the loop.

    III. BACKGROUND

    5. The term ―line sharing‖ refers to the provision of xDSL-based service by a 4competitive LEC and voiceband service by an incumbent LEC on the same loop. In our Line

    Sharing Order, we facilitated the availability of line sharing by requiring incumbent LECs to 5provide unbundled access to the ―high frequency portion of the loop.‖ We found that this new

    unbundling obligation would facilitate competition in the provision of advanced services, particularly to residential and small business consumers, by enabling competitive LECs to provide xDSL-based services to consumers through telephone lines that the competitive LECs share with 6incumbents. We concluded in the Line Sharing Order that lack of access to the high frequency

    portion of the local loop materially diminishes the ability of competitive LECs to provide certain types of advanced services to residential and small business users, delays broad facilities-based

     2 CC Docket No. 98-147.

    3 CC Docket No. 96-98.

    4 Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20915, para. 4.

    5 See 47 C.F.R. ? 51.319(h).

    6 Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20915, para. 4. The term ―advanced services‖ is defined as ―high speed, switched, broadband, wireline telecommunications capability that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics or video telecommunications using any technology.‖ 47 C.F.R. ? 51.5. ―x-DSL‖

    service refers to advanced services that use digital subscriber line technology to send signals over copper wires to packet switches. xDSL services include ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line), HDSL (high-speed digital subscriber line), UDSL (universal digital subscriber line), VDSL (very-high speed digital subscriber line), and RADSL (rate-adaptive digital subscriber line). The small ―x‖ before the letters ―DSL‖ signifies that we are referring to DSL as a generic transmission technology, as opposed to a specific DSL ―flavor.‖

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     Federal Communications Commission FCC 01-26

    market entry, and materially limits the scope and quality of competitor service offerings. We also determined, based upon the record before us, that there were no technical, economic, operational, 7 The Line Sharing Order or practical barriers to incumbent LEC line sharing with competitors.

    addressed a number of operational issues associated with the implementation of line sharing, including effective dates, loop conditioning and testing, and the presence of digital loop carrier systems.

    6. We also adopted spectrum management policies and rules in the Line Sharing

    Order to facilitate the competitive deployment of advanced services. Specifically, we took steps to encourage the voluntary deployment of industry standards while limiting the ability of any class of carriers to impose unilateral and potentially anti-competitive spectrum management or compatibility rules on other xDSL providers. The Line Sharing Order addressed standards-

    setting, spectrum compatibility, binder group management, and the disposition of interfering 8technologies.

    IV. DISCUSSION

    A. Line Sharing Issues

    1. Definition of High Frequency Portion of the Loop

    a. Background

    7. Section 51.319(h)(1) of our rules defines the high frequency portion of the loop as ―the frequency range above the voiceband on a copper loop facility that is being used to carry 9analog circuit-switched voiceband transmissions.‖ Where an incumbent LEC chooses to migrate

    its customers to fiber loop facilities, the xDSL provider may be required to forego access to the high frequency portion of the loop serving that customer, and may have to obtain access to an 10entire unbundled copper loop or find another alternative to maintain service. In the Line

    Sharing Order, we stated our expectation that incumbents and competitive LECs would be able to resolve such issues in the course of good faith negotiations and arbitration proceedings 11conducted pursuant to section 252. Moreover, we expressed our belief that the requirement to

    unbundle the high frequency spectrum would not infringe incumbents’ ability to rearrange or

     7 Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20916, para. 5.

    8 Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20991-21014, paras. 183-220.

    9 47 C.F.R. ? 51.319(h)(1). The local loop is defined as a transmission facility between a distribution frame (or its equivalent) in an incumbent LEC central office and the loop demarcation point at an end user customer premises, including inside wire owned by the incumbent LEC. Implementation of the Local Competition

    Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, CC Docket No. 96-98, Third Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd

    3696, 3936-37, App. C (1999) (UNE Remand Order); 47 C.F.R. ? 51.319(a)(1).

    10 See Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20951, para. 80.

    11 Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20951, n.182 (citing 47 C.F.R. ? 51.301 and noting our intent to ensure

    that line sharing negotiations proceed ―in good faith and for mutual advantage‖).

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    replace their loop plant because the retail xDSL service being offered by the incumbents themselves requires the same loop plant that competitive LECs require to offer shared-line 12 xDSL.

    8. The Line Sharing Order also addressed the implications of a digital loop carrier

    (DLC) network architecture, in which the portion of the loop running from the central office to a remote terminal is on fiber facilities and the portion of the loop running from the remote terminal to the customer is on a copper loop facility. We concluded that incumbent LECs are required to unbundle the high frequency portion of the local loop even where the incumbent LEC’s voice customer is served by DLC facilities. We also concluded that incumbents must provide unbundled access to the high frequency portion of the loop at the remote terminal as well as the central 13office.

    9. Rhythms requests clarification that use of the word ―copper‖ in the definition of the high frequency portion of the loop does not limit an incumbent LEC’s obligation to provide competitive LECs with access to the fiber portion of the loop for provision of line-shared xDSL

    services. Rhythms asserts that some incumbent LECs have taken the position in line sharing negotiations that they have no obligation to unbundle fiber portions of the loop when those 14portions are used to provide xDSL service.

    b. Discussion

    10. We clarify that the requirement to provide line sharing applies to the entire loop, even where the incumbent has deployed fiber in the loop (e.g., where the loop is served by a

    remote terminal). Our use of the word ―copper‖ in section 51.319(h)(1) was not intended to limit

    an incumbent LEC’s obligation to provide competitive LECs with access to the fiber portion of a DLC loop for the provision of line-shared xDSL services. As noted above, incumbent LECs are required to unbundle the high frequency portion of the local loop even where the incumbent

     12 Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20951, para. 80.

    13 Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20956, paras. 88-92; 47 C.F.R. ? 51.319(h)(6). We pointed out that incumbent LECs are under an independent obligation to provide unbundled access to subloops wherever technically feasible. Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20955, para. 89; UNE Remand Order, 15 FCC Rcd at

    3789-90, para. 206. An accessible terminal is a point on the loop where technicians can access the wire or fiber within the cable without removing a splice case to reach the wire or fiber within. UNE Remand Order, 15 FCC

    Rcd at 3789-90, para. 206. Such points may include, but are not limited to, the main distribution frame in the incumbent’s central office, the remote terminal, and the feeder/distribution interface. Id.;47 C.F.R. ? 51.319(a)(2).

    14 Letter from Christy C. Kunin, Counsel for Rhythms NetConnections Inc., to Magalie Roman Salas, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, CC Docket Nos. 98-147 & 96-98 at 1-2 (filed Aug. 4, 2000) (Rhythms Aug. 4 Ex Parte Letter). We note that the issue Rhythms raises does not appear to relate to the technical feasibility of providing line sharing over fiber-fed facilities, but rather it appears to be limited to the obligation an incumbent LEC has to unbundle the high frequency portion of the local loop when some portion of that loop is on fiber facilities. See Letter from W. Scott Randolph, Director Regulatory Matters, Verizon Communications, to

    Magalie R. Salas, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, CC Docket Nos. 98-147 & 00-176 (filed Oct. 6, 2000) (addressing line sharing obligations when a line is equipped with DLC).

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     Federal Communications Commission FCC 01-26

    15 The local loop is defined as a transmission LEC’s voice customer is served by DLC facilities.

    facility between a distribution frame (or its equivalent) in an incumbent LEC central office and the

     loop demarcation point at an end user customer premises, including inside wire owned by the 16incumbent LEC. By using the word ―transmission facility‖ rather than ―copper‖ or ―fiber,‖ we specifically intended to ensure that this definition was technology-neutral. The ―high frequency

    portion of the loop‖ is defined as the frequency range above the voiceband on a copper loop facility that is being used to carry analog circuit-switched voiceband transmissions. Thus, although the high frequency portion of the loop network element is limited by technology, i.e., is

    only available on a copper loop facility, access to that network element is not limited to the

    copper loop facility itself. When we concluded in the Line Sharing Order that incumbents must

    provide unbundled access to the high frequency portion of the loop at the remote terminal as well as the central office, we did not intend to limit competitive LECs’ access to fiber feeder subloops for line sharing.

    11. In the absence of this clarification, a competitive LEC might undertake to collocate a DSLAM in an incumbent’s central office to provide line-shared xDSL services to customers,

    only to be told by the incumbent that it was migrating those customers to fiber-fed facilities and the competitor would now have to collocate another DSLAM at a remote terminal in order to

    continue providing line-shared services to those same customers. If our conclusion in the Line

    Sharing Order that incumbents must provide access to the high frequency portion of the loop at the remote terminal as well as the central office is to have any meaning, then competitive LECs must have the option to access the loop at either location, not the one that the incumbent chooses 17as a result of network upgrades entirely under its own control. This approach is consistent with

    the dual goals expressed in the Line Sharing Order of allowing incumbents to deploy whatever

    network architecture they deem to be most efficient, while also requiring them to engage in good 18faith negotiations regarding their unbundling obligations.

    12. We clarify that where a competitive LEC has collocated a DSLAM at the remote terminal, an incumbent LEC must enable the competitive LEC to transmit its data traffic from the remote terminal to the central office. The incumbent LEC can do this, at a minimum, by leasing 19access to the dark fiber element or by leasing access to the subloop element. We also recognize

     15 See Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20956, para. 91.

    16 UNE Remand Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 3936-37, App. C; 47 C.F.R. ? 51.319(a)(1).

    17 See Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20956, para. 91; 47 C.F.R. ? 51.319(h)(6).

    18 See Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20950-51, 20956; paras. 80, 91. In cases where the technical

    feasibility of subloop unbundling on a DLC loop is actually contested, the incumbent carrier bears the burden of demonstrating to the relevant state commission, in the course of a section 252 proceeding, that it is not technically feasible to unbundle the subloop to provide access to the high frequency portion of the loop. See Line Sharing

    Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20956, para. 92.

    19 In the UNE Remand Order, the Commission found that incumbent LECs were obligated to provide unbundled

    access to subloops wherever technically feasible. UNE Remand Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 3789-90, para. 206. An

    accessible terminal is a point on the loop where technicians can access the wire or fiber within the cable without removing a splice case to reach the wire or fiber within. Such points may include, but are not limited to, the main (continued….)

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     Federal Communications Commission FCC 01-26

    that there are other ways in which line sharing may be implemented where there is fiber in the loop and we do not mandate any particular means in this Order. Solutions largely turn on the

    inherent capabilities of equipment that incumbent LECs have deployed, and are planning to deploy, in remote terminals. A competitive LEC’s choice of various line-sharing arrangements may also

    be influenced by whether it has already collocated, or is capable of collocating at a remote terminal. For these reasons, we are initiating a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 20 and a Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in today in the Advanced Services docket21the Local Competition docket that requests comment on the feasibility of different methods of providing line sharing where an incumbent LEC has deployed fiber in the loop.

    2213. All indications are that fiber deployment by incumbent LECs is increasing, and

    that collocation by competitive LECs at remote terminals is likely to be costly, time consuming, 23and often unavailable. We provide this clarification because we find that it would be inconsistent (Continued from previous page)

    distribution frame in the incumbent’s central office, the remote terminal, and the feeder/distribution interface. Id.;47 C.F.R. ? 51.319(a)(2). Thus, as we described in our Fifth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the

    Local Competition docket (CC Docket No. 96-98), the subloop element includes, among other possible portions, the portion of the loop between the remote terminal (or feeder/distribution interface) and the customer’s premises (distribution), as well as the portion of the loop between the central office and the remote terminal (feeder), as distinct unbundled network elements. See Deployment of Wireline Services Offering Advanced

    Telecommunications Capability and Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Order on Reconsideration and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in CC Docket No. 98-147 and Fifth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in CC Docket No. 96-98, FCC 00-297 at para. 123 (rel. Aug. 10, 2000) (Fifth Further NPRM) (inviting comment generally on whether the deployment of

    new network architectures necessitates any modification to or clarification of the Commission’s rules concerning

    subloops, as well as those pertaining to line sharing). Subloop elements include attached electronics (e.g.,

    multiplexing equipment used to derive the loop transmission capacity). See id. at paras. 119, 123.

    20 CC Docket No. 98-147.

    21 CC Docket No. 96-98.

    22 See, e.g., Proceeding on Motion of the Commission to Examine Issues Concerning the Provision of Digital Subscriber Line Services, New York Public Service Commission, Case 00-C-0127, AT&T Comments at 48 (Aug.

    22, 2000) (Percentage of Bell Atlantic-New York assigned loops served using some form of DLC will grow from 14.4 percent at the end of 1999, to 16.4 percent by year-end 2000, and to 18.3 percent by year-end 2001). SBC’s

    three-year Project Pronto initiative, which relies in large part upon increased use of DLC systems to reduce overall costs, entails laying some 12,000 miles of fiber transmission facilities and creating 25,000 neighborhood gateways. Ameritech Corp., Transferor, and SBC Communications, Inc., Transferee, for Consent to Transfer Control of Corporations Holding Commission Licenses and Lines Pursuant to Sections 214 and 310(d) of the Communications Act and Parts 5, 22, 24, 25, 63, 90, 95, and 101 of the Commission’s Rules, CC Docket No. 98-

    141, ASD File No. 99-49, Second Memorandum Opinion and Order, FCC 00-336, at para. 3 (rel. Sept. 8, 2000). Approximately 25 percent of SBC’s customer lines are served by DLC systems today. Id. at 23 & n.65.

    23 See, e.g., Deployment of Wireline Services Offering Advanced Telecommunications Capability, CC

    Docket No. 98-147, Order on Reconsideration and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 00-297 at para. 105 & n.228 (rel. Aug. 10, 2000); Petition of Covad Communications Company for an Arbitration Award

    Against Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania, Inc., Implementing the Line Sharing Unbundling Network Element, Docket No.

    A-310696F0002; Petition of Rhythms Links, Inc. for an Expedited Arbitration Award Implementing Line Sharing, Docket No. A-310698F0002, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Opinion and Order at 36-37 & n.22 (Aug. 17, 2000) (noting assertions by Covad and Rhythms that, in many instances, it may be cost prohibitive to collocate (continued….)

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    with the intent of the Line Sharing Order and the statutory goals behind sections 706 and 251 of

    the 1996 Act to permit the increased deployment of fiber-based networks by incumbent LECs to 24 This clarification promotes the 1996 unduly inhibit the competitive provision of xDSL services.

    Act’s goal of rapid deployment of advanced services because it makes clear that competitive

    LECs have the flexibility to engage in line sharing using DSLAM facilities that they have already deployed in central offices rather than having to duplicate those facilities at remote terminals. In addition, our ruling in the instant Order ensures that in situations where there is no room in the remote terminal for the placement of competitive LEC facilities, competitors nevertheless are able to obtain line sharing from the incumbents.

    2. Line Splitting

    a. Background

    14. In the Line Sharing Order, the Commission established that an incumbent LEC’s

    obligation to make the high frequency portion of the loop separately available as an unbundled network element is limited to where the incumbent LEC is providing, and continues to provide, 25voice service over the particular loop to which the competing carrier seeks access.

    15. AT&T and WorldCom request clarification that incumbent LECs must permit competing carriers who provide voice service via the end-to-end combination of unbundled network elements, known as the UNE-platform, to self-provision or partner with a data carrier to 26provide voice and data service on the same line. In addition, AT&T requests that the

    Commission clarify that nothing in the Line Sharing Order permits incumbent LECs to deny their

    xDSL services to customers who obtain voice service from a competing carrier, as long as the 27competing carrier agrees to the use of its loop for that purpose.

    b. Discussion

    16. We grant the petitions of AT&T and WorldCom with respect to their request for clarification that an incumbent LEC must permit competing carriers providing voice service using the UNE-platform to either self-provision necessary equipment or partner with a competitive data carrier to provide xDSL service on the same line. By doing so, we clarify that existing Commission rules support the availability of line splitting. We deny, however, AT&T’s request that the Commission clarify that incumbent LECs must continue to provide xDSL services in the (Continued from previous page)

    a traditional DSLAM at a remote terminal, there may not be space for requesting carriers to do so, and the means to connect the DSLAM to the unbundled fiber feeder network element may not be commercially viable). 24 47 U.S.C. ?? 157, 251; Sec. 706, Pub. L. 104-104, Title VII, Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 153, reproduced in the notes under 47 U.S.C. ? 157.

    25 Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20941, para. 13; 47 C.F.R. ? 51.319(h)(3).

    26 AT&T Petition at 2; WorldCom Petition at 3-4.

    27 AT&T Petition at 13.

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    event customers choose to obtain voice service from a competing carrier on the same line because

     we find that the Line Sharing Order contained no such requirement.

    17. Line Splitting. As described above, in the Line Sharing Order, the Commission

    limited line sharing ―to those instances in which the incumbent LEC is providing, and continues to 28 In provide, voice service on the particular loop to which the [competing] carrier seeks access.‖other words, a competing carrier seeking to provide xDSL service using the unbundled high frequency portion of the loop can do so only if the same loop is used by the incumbent LEC to provide voice service to an end user. Thus, the situation that AT&T and WorldCom describe is not technically line sharing, because both the voice and data service would be provided by competing carrier(s) over a single loop. To avoid confusion, in the Texas 271 Order, we 29characterized this type of arrangement as ―line splitting,‖ rather than line sharing.

    18. We find that incumbent LECs have a current obligation to provide competing carriers with the ability to engage in line splitting arrangements. The Commission’s existing rules require incumbent LECs to provide competing carriers with access to unbundled loops in a manner that allows the competing carrier ―to provide any telecommunications service that can be 30offered by means of that network element.‖ Our rules also state that ―[a]n incumbent LEC shall

    not impose limitations, restrictions, or requirements on . . . the use of unbundled network elements that would impair the ability of‖ a competing carrier ―to offer a telecommunications 31service in the manner‖ that the competing carrier ―intends.‖ We further note that the definition

    of ―network element‖ in the Act does not restrict the services that may be offered by a competing carrier, and expressly includes ―features, functions, and capabilities that are provided by means of 32such facility or equipment.‖ As a result, independent of the unbundling obligations associated with the high frequency portion of the loop that are described in the Line Sharing Order,

    incumbent LECs must allow competing carriers to offer both voice and data service over a single unbundled loop. This obligation extends to situations where a competing carrier seeks to provide combined voice and data services on the same loop, or where two competing carriers join to provide voice and data services through line splitting.

    19. Thus, as AT&T and WorldCom contend, incumbent LECs have an obligation to permit competing carriers to engage in line splitting using the UNE-platform where the competing

     28 Line Sharing Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 20941, para. 13; Application by SBC Communications Inc., Southwestern

    Bell Telephone Company, and Southwestern Bell Communications Services, Inc. d/b/a Southwestern Bell Long Distance Pursuant to Section 271 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to Provide In-Region, InterLATA

    Services in Texas, CC Docket No. 00-65, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 18354, 18515, para. 324 (2000) (Texas 271 Order).

    29 Texas 271 Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 18515, para. 324.

    30 47 C.F.R. ? 51.307(c); Texas 271 Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 18515-16, para. 325.

    31 47 C.F.R. ? 51.309(a).

    32 47 U.S.C. ? 153(29).

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