NTCA Urges FCC to Promote and Sustain TDM-to-IP Transition, Calls for Carefully Balanced Regulatory Review

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Arlington, Va. (November 19, 2012) – Signaling the strong desire of the nation's small, independent telecommunications providers to continue leading the delivery of affordable, high-quality telecommunications services to rural communities and ensuring universal service in an "all-IP world," the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) today petitioned the FCC to undertake a carefully calibrated review of regulations that may affect the evolution of technologies within communications networks.

In its petition for rulemaking, NTCA urged the FCC to promote regulatory certainty and sustain the ongoing evolution of the nation's communications networks to IP-based infrastructure by providing targeted, thoughtful regulatory relief and establishing economic incentives to spur greater deployment and maintenance of IP-enabled networks.

NTCA's petition strongly cautions against taking a "sledgehammer" approach to reforming existing regulations that support the evolving mix of TDM-based and IP-based platforms. Rather, NTCA asserts that the commission should adopt a balanced approach to regulatory reform that is tethered to the statutory cornerstones of consumer protection, competition and universal service and that builds upon current mechanisms in seeking to promote and sustain technological evolution.

 "If one thinks of the current regulatory construct as the foundation of a house, there are three clear choices: tear the foundation down altogether; examine the bricks and repair or replace those that need it; or leave the foundation standing without change," said NTCA Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Romano. "It is essential to take a surgical look at regulations as technologies and markets evolve—but it is just as important that we maintain a clearly defined and sensible regulatory framework that above all else protects consumers and promotes universal service."

NTCA's petition includes a number of future-focused proposals, including:

-          Developing a specific process for thoughtful and targeted examination of current regulations in light of the statutory cornerstones of protecting consumers, promoting competition and ensuring universal service.

-          Introducing new near-term economic incentives to promote the IP evolution, including policies that: (1) encourage IP interconnection by allowing carriers to recover the cost of carrying traffic on their networks; and (2) provide sufficient and predictable universal service support for broadband-capable, IP-enabled networks.

-          Coordinating closely on such regulatory initiatives with state regulators to tailor solutions at the local level in order to achieve the core statutory objectives of protecting consumers, promoting competition, and ensuring universal service.

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The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is the premier association representing more than 580 locally owned and controlled telecommunications cooperatives and commercial companies throughout rural and small-town America. NTCA provides its members with legislative, regulatory and industry representation; meetings; publications and educational programs; and an array of employee benefit programs. Visit us at www.ntca.org.