Title IV, Regulatory Reform
SEC. 401. REGULATORY FORBEARANCE.
Title I is amended by inserting after section 9 (47 U.S.C. 159) the following new section:
'SEC. 10. COMPETITION IN PROVISION OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE.
'(a) Regulatory flexibility: Notwithstanding section 332(c)(1)(A) of this Act, the Commission shall forbear from applying any regulation or any provision of this Act to a telecommunications carrier or telecommunications service, or class of telecommunications carriers or telecommunications services, in any or some of its or their geographic markets, if the Commission determines that--
'(1) enforcement of such regulation or provision is not necessary to ensure that the charges, practices, classifications, or regulations by, for, or in connection with that telecommunications carrier or telecommunications service are just and reasonable and are not unjustly or unreasonably discriminatory;
'(2) enforcement of such regulation or provision is not necessary for the protection of consumers; and
'(3) forbearance from applying such provision or regulation is consistent with the public interest.
'(b) Competitive Effect To Be Weighed: In making the determination under subsection (a)(3), the Commission shall consider whether forbearance from enforcing the provision or regulation will promote competitive market conditions, including the extent to which such forbearance will enhance competition among providers of telecommunications services. If the Commission determines that such forbearance will promote competition among providers of telecommunications services, that determination may be the basis for a Commission finding that forbearance is in the public interest.
'(c) Petition for Forbearance.--Any telecommunications carrier, or class of telecommunications carriers, may submit a petition to the Commission requesting that the Commission exercise the authority granted under this section with respect to that carrier or those carriers, or any service offered by that carrier or carriers.
Any such petition shall be deemed granted if the Commission does not deny the petition for failure to meet the requirements for forbearance under subsection (a) within one year after the Commission receives it, unless the one-year period is extended by the Commission. The Commission may extend the initial one-year period by an additional 90 days if the Commission finds that an extension is necessary to meet the requirements of subsection (a). The Commission may grant or deny a petition in whole or in part and shall explain its decision in writing.
'(d) Limitation: Except as provided in section 251(f), the Commission may not forbear from applying the requirements of section 251(c) or 271 under subsection (a) of this section until it determines that those requirements have been fully implemented.
'(e) State Enforcement After Commission Forbearance: A State commission may not continue to apply or enforce any provision of this Act that the Commission has determined to forbear from applying under subsection (a).'.
SEC. 402. BIENNIAL REVIEW OF REGULATIONS; REGULATORY RELIEF.
(a) Biennial Review: Title I is amended by inserting after section 10 (as added by section 401) the following new section:
'SEC. 11. REGULATORY REFORM.
'(a) Biennial Review of Regulations: In every even-numbered year (beginning with 1998), the Commission--
'(1) shall review all regulations issued under this Act in effect at the time of the review that apply to the operations or activities of any provider of telecommunications service; and
'(2) shall 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.
'(b) Effect of Determination: The Commission shall repeal or modify any regulation it determines to be no longer necessary in the public interest.'.
(b) Regulatory Relief.--
(1) Streamlined procedures for changes in charges, classifications, regulations, or practices:
(A) Section 204(a) (47 U.S.C. 204(a)) is amended--
(i) by striking '12 months' the first place it appears in paragraph (2)(A) and inserting '5 months';
(ii) by striking 'effective,' and all that follows in paragraph (2)(A) and inserting 'effective.'; and
(iii) by adding at the end thereof the following:
'(3) A local exchange carrier may file with the Commission a new or revised charge, classification, regulation, or practice on a streamlined basis. Any such charge, classification, regulation, or practice shall be deemed lawful and shall be effective 7 days (in the case of a reduction in rates) or 15 days (in the case of an increase in rates) after the date on which it is filed with the Commission unless the Commission takes action under paragraph (1) before the end of that 7-day or 15-day period, as is appropriate.'.
(B) Section 208(b) (47 U.S.C. 208(b)) is amended--
(i) by striking '12 months' the first place it appears in paragraph (1) and inserting '5 months'; and
(ii) by striking 'filed,' and all that follows in paragraph (1) and inserting 'filed.'.
(2) Extensions of lines under section 214; armis reports.--The Commission shall permit any common carrier--
(A) to be exempt from the requirements of section 214 of the Communications Act of 1934 for the extension of any line; and
(B) to file cost allocation manuals and ARMIS reports annually, to the extent such carrier is required to file such manuals or reports.
(3) Forbearance authority not limited.--Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the authority of the Commission to waive, modify, or forbear from applying any of the requirements to which reference is made in paragraph (1) under any other provision of this Act or other law.
(4) Effective date of amendments: The amendments made by paragraph (1) of this subsection shall apply with respect to any charge, classification, regulation, or practice filed on or after one year after the date of enactment of this Act.
(c) Classification of Carriers.--In classifying carriers according to section 32.11 of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 32.11) and in establishing reporting requirements pursuant to part 43 of its regulations (47 C.F.R. part 43) and section 64.903 of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 64.903), the Commission shall adjust the revenue requirements to account for inflation as of the release date of the Commission's Report and Order in CC Docket No. 91-141, and annually thereafter. This subsection shall take effect on the date of enactment of this Act.
SEC. 403. ELIMINATION OF UNNECESSARY COMMISSION REGULATIONS AND FUNCTIONS.
(a) Modification of Amateur Radio Examination Procedures: Section 4(f)(4) (47 U.S.C. 154(f)(4)) is amended--
(1) in subparagraph (A)--
(A) by inserting 'or administering' after 'for purposes of preparing';
(B) by inserting 'of' after 'than the class'; and
(C) by inserting 'or administered' after 'for which the examination is being prepared';
(2) by striking subparagraph (B);
(3) in subparagraph (H), by striking '(A), (B), and (C)' and inserting '(A) and (B)';
(4) in subparagraph (J)--
(A) by striking 'or (B)'; and
(B) by striking the last sentence; and
(5) by redesignating subparagraphs (C) through (J) as subparagraphs (B) through (I), respectively.
(b) Authority To Designate Entities To Inspect: Section 4(f)(3) (47 U.S.C. 154(f)(3)) is amended by inserting before the period at the end the following: ': And provided further, That, in the alternative, an entity designated by the Commission may make the inspections referred to in this paragraph'.
(c) Expediting Instructional Television Fixed Service Processing: Section 5(c)(1) (47 U.S.C. 155(c)(1)) is amended by striking the last sentence and inserting the following: 'Except for cases involving the authorization of service in the instructional television fixed service, or as otherwise provided in this Act, nothing in this paragraph shall authorize the Commission to provide for the conduct, by any person or persons other than persons referred to in paragraph (2) or (3) of section 556(b) of title 5, United States Code, of any hearing to which such section applies.'.
(d) Repeal Setting of Depreciation Rates: The first sentence of section 220(b) (47 U.S.C. 220(b)) is amended by striking 'shall prescribe for such carriers' and inserting 'may prescribe, for such carriers as it determines to be appropriate,'.
(e) Use of Independent Auditors: Section 220(c) (47 U.S.C. 220(c)) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following: 'The Commission may obtain the services of any person licensed to provide public accounting services under the law of any State to assist with, or conduct, audits under this section. While so employed or engaged in conducting an audit for the Commission under this section, any such person shall have the powers granted the Commission under this subsection and shall be subject to subsection (f) in the same manner as if that person were an employee of the Commission.'.
(f) Delegation of Equipment Testing and Certification to Private Laboratories: Section 302 (47 U.S.C. 302) is amended by adding at the end the following:
'(e) The Commission may--
'(1) authorize the use of private organizations for testing and certifying the compliance of devices or home electronic equipment and systems with regulations promulgated under this section;
'(2) accept as prima facie evidence of such compliance the certification by any such organization; and
'(3) establish such qualifications and standards as it deems appropriate for such private organizations, testing, and certification.'.
(g) Making License Modification Uniform: Section 303(f) (47 U.S.C. 303(f)) is amended by striking 'unless, after a public hearing,' and inserting 'unless'.
(h) Eliminate FCC Jurisdiction Over Government-Owned Ship Radio Stations:
(1) Section 305 (47 U.S.C. 305) is amended by striking subsection (b) and redesignating subsections (c) and (d) as (b) and (c), respectively.
(2) Section 382(2) (47 U.S.C. 382(2)) is amended by striking 'except a vessel of the United States Maritime Administration, the Inland and Coastwise Waterways Service, or the Panama Canal Company,'.
(i) Permit Operation of Domestic Ship and Aircraft Radios Without License: Section 307(e) (47 U.S.C. 307(e)) is amended to read as follows:
'(e)(1) Notwithstanding any license requirement established in this Act, if the Commission determines that such authorization serves the public interest, convenience, and necessity, the Commission may by rule authorize the operation of radio stations without individual licenses in the following radio services: (A) the citizens band radio service; (B) the radio control service; (C) the aviation radio service for aircraft stations operated on domestic flights when such aircraft are not otherwise required to carry a radio station; and (D) the maritime radio service for ship stations navigated on domestic voyages when such ships are not otherwise required to carry a radio station.
'(2) Any radio station operator who is authorized by the Commission to operate without an individual license shall comply with all other provisions of this Act and with rules prescribed by the Commission under this Act.
'(3) For purposes of this subsection, the terms 'citizens band radio service', 'radio control service', 'aircraft station' and 'ship station' shall have the meanings given them by the Commission by rule.'.
(j) Expedited Licensing for Fixed Microwave Service: Section 309(b)(2) (47 U.S.C. 309(b)(2)) is amended by striking subparagraph (A) and redesignating subparagraphs (B) through (G) as subparagraphs (A) through (F), respectively.
(k) Foreign Directors: Section 310(b) (47 U.S.C. 310(b)) is amended--
(1) in paragraph (3), by striking 'of which any officer or director is an alien or'; and
(2) in paragraph (4), by striking 'of which any officer or more than one-fourth of the directors are aliens, or'.
(l) Limitation on Silent Station Authorizations: Section 312 (47 U.S.C. 312) is amended by adding at the end the following:
'(g) If a broadcasting station fails to transmit broadcast signals for any consecutive 12-month period, then the station license granted for the operation of that broadcast station expires at the end of that period, notwithstanding any provision, term, or condition of the license to the contrary.'.
(m) Modification of Construction Permit Requirement: Section 319(d) is amended by striking the last two sentences and inserting the following: 'With respect to any broadcasting station, the Commission shall not have any authority to waive the requirement of a permit for construction, except that the Commission may by regulation determine that a permit shall not be required for minor changes in the facilities of authorized broadcast stations. With respect to any other station or class of stations, the Commission shall not waive the requirement for a construction permit unless the Commission determines that the public interest, convenience, and necessity would be served by such a waiver.'.
(n) Conduct of Inspections: Section 362(b) (47 U.S.C. 362(b)) is amended to read as follows:
'(b) Every ship of the United States that is subject to this part shall have the equipment and apparatus prescribed therein inspected at least once each year by the Commission or an entity designated by the Commission. If, after such inspection, the Commission is satisfied that all relevant provisions of this Act and the station license have been complied with, the fact shall be so certified on the station license by the Commission. The Commission shall make such additional inspections at frequent intervals as the Commission determines may be necessary to ensure compliance with the requirements of this Act. The Commission may, upon a finding that the public interest could be served thereby--
'(1) waive the annual inspection required under this section for a period of up to 90 days for the sole purpose of enabling a vessel to complete its voyage and proceed to a port in the United States where an inspection can be held; or
'(2) waive the annual inspection required under this section for a vessel that is in compliance with the radio provisions of the Safety Convention and that is operating solely in waters beyond the jurisdiction of the United States, provided that such inspection shall be performed within 30 days of such vessel's return to the United States.'.
(o) Inspection by Other Entities: Section 385 (47 U.S.C. 385) is amended--
(1) by inserting 'or an entity designated by the Commission' after 'The Commission'; and
(2) by adding at the end thereof the following: 'In accordance with such other provisions of law as apply to Government contracts, the Commission may enter into contracts with any person for the purpose of carrying out such inspections and certifying compliance with those requirements, and may, as part of any such contract, allow any such person to accept reimbursement from the license holder for travel and expense costs of any employee conducting an inspection or certification.'.