Yesterday, the FCC kicked off its 2016 biennial review of telecommunications regulations with the issuance of a public notice which seeks input from the public “as to what [FCC] rules should be modified or repealed.” The FCC is conducting its 2016 biennial review in conformity with Section 11 of the 1934 Communications Act, which directs the agency to (1) review biennially regulations “that apply to the operations or activities of any provider of telecommunications service,” and (2) “determine whether any such regulation is no longer necessary in the public interest as the result of meaningful economic competition between providers of such service.” Section 11 also requires the FCC to repeal or modify any rule or regulation that it finds is no longer in the public interest. Notwithstanding these statutory provisions, the FCC did not initiate a biennial review of its rules in 2014. As such, the 2016 effort announced yesterday would represent the first comprehensive review of the FCC’s rules in four years.
Deadlines for submitting comments and reply comments on the 2016 review, which encompasses nearly 40 FCC rule parts administered by the agency’s five bureaus and the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology, are December 5 and January 3, respectively. Within four months of the reply comment deadline, the FCC intends for each bureau and office to issue a biennial report which, in turn, would trigger the development of notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) by each bureau or office that include recommendations on rules to be modified or repealed. The FCC anticipates that NPRMs implementing these recommendations will be adopted within five months of the release of the biennial reports.