USTelecom petitions FCC for relief from legacy regulations

Regulations dating back to when phone companies had a monopoly on voice services are outdated and need to be revised because they impede investments in high-speed broadband networks, among other things.

That's the gist of a petition trade group USTelecom filed with the FCC in which it noted that regulations imposed on telcos are archaic in a new era of telecommunications competition.

"These requirements drain resources and no longer do anything to promote competition or protect consumers," the petition stated, according to a Channel Partners story. "They force ILECs to dedicate resources to the configuration of their legacy telephone networks rather than investing those resources" in broadband efforts.

Among the rules the trade group would like modified are those requiring telcos to separate local and long distance businesses and to continue offering legacy technology--a hot button with consumers where telcos have tried it. The reasoning is that cable, wireless and competitive fiber operators don't have to play by the same rules.

The petition "is intended to present the Commission with a concrete agenda for allowing ILEC investment to be reoriented away from legacy, narrowband, copper-based telephone networks and toward the deployment of next-generation facilities."

Noting the power of cable companies in the telecom space, the petition emphasized that "the combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable would be the second largest voice service provider in the United States upon completion of their (proposed) merger" and that this combination would be using advanced VOIP services, not legacy TDM.

The petition also singled out mobile communications as having "perhaps an even greater impact than the advent of interconnected VoIP," citing FCC statistics that said "'approximately 97 percent of the U.S. population is covered by the networks of at least three mobile voice providers, close to 93 percent is covered by the networks of at least four mobile voice providers, and about 80 percent is covered by five'" which is "more than double the number of in-service access lines as of mid-2013."

In summation, USTelecom President-CEO Walter McCormick told reporters during a conference call concurrent with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's address at CompTel, that "the future regulatory environment should be one that is based upon the world as it exists today," according to a story in The Hill. "That is sort of like the overall theme we think public policy should move towards. This petition is a little tiny baby step in that direction."

For more:
- USTelecom sent the FCC this petition
- The Hill has this story
- Channel Partners has this story
- and Multichannel News has this story

Related articles:
FCC's Wheeler: IP transition is not a license to limit competition
USTelecom: Service providers invested $66B in broadband in 2011
Verizon, Sprint, USTelecom join challengers to USF reform plan

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