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FCC to file things away online

The agency is preparing to open a proceeding to allow electronic filing of formal documents.

The Federal Communications Commission is preparing to open a proceeding to allow electronic filing of formal documents this spring, an agency spokeswoman said today.

The FCC is also taking steps to upgrade its communications network to handle the electronic filings, said Susan Sallet, director of public affairs. "After all, communications is our middle name," Sallet said.

The FCC first announced plans to initiate electronic filing in June of last year. Little has been said since then, however.

The proceeding will clear the way for the filing of formal comments online. The passage of the Telecommunications Act hastened the need for expanded use of new technologies, because the FCC is charged with implementing dozens of provisions of the complex law.

Now parties can file their formal comments on diskettes, as well as through regular or electronic mail. But the volume is rising.

This week, for example, marks a deadline for receiving public comments on whether the agency should require Internet service providers to pay Net access fees.

As reported earlier, a record flood of more than 100,000 emailings caused one of the agency's computers to shut down temporarily last week. The system since has been upgraded to handle the extra load.