COMPTEL on Monday asked 106 Congressional lawmakers to pressure the FCC not to vote on proposed intercarrier compensation/Universal Service Fund (ICC/USF) reform on Dec. 18.
The FCC pulled the item from its Nov. 3 agenda, to the relief of CLECs, RLECs, consumer advocates and others. Chairman Kevin Martin was unable to secure his four fellow commissioners’ agreement on a draft ICC/USF overhaul order. But Martin’s colleagues – Robert McDowell, Deborah Tate, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein – rescheduled the vote for the agency’s December meeting. Martin told the four that if comment and reply comment periods were extended into December, it would be difficult to schedule a vote by then.* Nonetheless, COMPTEL President Matt Salmon, in a Nov. 17 letter to federal lawmakers, asked lawmakers to push the FCC to allow more time “for thorough and carefully scrutinized comments to be submitted and reviewed.”
“Comments are due Nov. 26 and reply comments are due Dec. 3,” Salmon wrote. “With the Thanksgiving holiday cutting into this timeframe, this essentially gives the commission 17 days to wade through what is expected to be hundreds of thousands of pages. In addition, the commission must then issue a draft order and circulate it. In my opinion, I don’t see how it is possible to do that in a thoughtful manner with such a short amount of time given for the process.”
Salmon emphasized that COMPTEL and its member companies “do not want to appear ungrateful, nor is it our intention to try to hold up the process.” Rather, he said, the association hopes to slow the commission’s sudden speed in trying to revamp the ICC and USF systems. There is no real urgency attached to either regime, Salmon said.
“The abbreviated comment period hardly allows for any real analysis or digestion on the commission’s part of issues that could dramatically alter the entire telecommunications industry,” he added in the letter.