On February 16, 2010, on behalf of the Ad Hoc Coalition of International Telecommunications Companies (“Coalition”), The CommLaw Group filed a Petition with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) requesting the immediate suspension of all enforcement of the Carrier‘s Carrier Rule pending the conclusion of a rulemaking proceeding to eliminate confusion and set uniform standards with respect to the rule‘s particular requirements. On February 25, 2010, the FCC released a Public Notice soliciting comments and reply comments, due March 29, 2010 and April 13, 2010, respectively.
Specifically, the Petition requests that the Commission initiate an open rulemaking proceeding in which to evaluate public and industry comments regarding an assortment of deficiencies, complexities, and injustices associated with the Carrier‘s Carrier Rule (“CCR”). As highlighted in the Petition, many of the CCR‘s failures are already before the Commission on a plethora of pending appeals filed by a wide swath of industry participants. As the goal of this rulemaking proceeding, the Coalition asks that the Commission develop a simple, uniform, and easily administered carrier-to-carrier USF exemption process – including a standardized USF Exemption Certification Form. As noted above, the Petition also requests that the FCC suspend all pending and future enforcement of the CCR, as currently interpreted by USAC, until new rules are adopted by the Commission.
In its Petition, the Coalition details the ways in which USAC‘s flawed application of the CCR affects the entire communications industry and demonstrates the urgent need for resolution in a formal rulemaking proceeding. In creating the CCR, the Commission‘s stated objective was to avoid duplicate USF contributions by multiple providers up and down the supply chain. However, over time, for some abusive suppliers, the CCR has devolved into a tool used to extract excess fees and charges. At a minimum, the inconsistent application of the CCR has caused confusion for both wholesalers and retailers which in turn has led to numerous disputes between carriers. The Coalition asserts that, by resolving inconsistencies in the application of the CCR, the Commission will dramatically reduce the number of unnecessary carrier disputes and curb many of the excesses resulting from USAC‘s current implementation of the CCR.
Furthermore, the Coalition‘s Petition argues that, because wholesale carriers currently depend upon their own varying interpretations of USAC’s Instructions for compliance with the CCR, the Commission should provide a standardized USF exemption certification process. Wholesale carriers traditionally rely, at least partially, upon exemption forms completed by their reseller customers to determine their pass-through USF obligations, and the dissimilarity in carrier-drafted exemption forms has bred chaos and confusion. According to the Coalition, the FCC can resolve many of the issues currently afflicting the industry by providing a standard exemption form to assist carriers with the USF exemption certification process and by initiating a comprehensive rulemaking clarifying both carriers‘ and their reseller customers obligations under the CCR.
The Petition is available for review at: Ad Hoc Coalition Request to Suspend Enforcement and Petition for Rulemaking
Clients are encouraged to monitor this proceeding and submit relevant, supportive comments and reply comments. Clients are also invited to support the efforts of the Coalition through voluntary contributions. Taking advantage of this opportunity does not obligate disclosure of a client‘s name as a Coalition member. Further, there is no requirement to contribute to this filing or the future endeavors of the Ad Hoc Coalition of International Telecommunications Companies. Non-clients may also participate and are not thereby obligated to become a firm client. We suggest a voluntary donation of at least $500 to become a supporting participant, though we emphasize that contributions are neither expected nor mandated at this time.
Please consider supporting the Coalition in its efforts to purge the federal Universal Service Fund of ambiguous, inconsistent, and imbalanced contribution requirements which frequently result in the inequitable treatment of wholly or predominantly international services providers.
Clients interested in submitting comments or in learning more about the Coalition‘s efforts, membership, and how to support the Petition or future endeavors should contact Jonathan S. Marashlian at (703) 714-1313 firstname.lastname@example.org.
 The Ad Hoc Coalition of International Telecommunications Companies (www.telecomcoalition.com) is comprised primarily of, but not limited to, prepaid and pre-subscribed international long distance service providers. These providers voluntarily and anonymously joined forces in an effort to remedy certain discriminatory and inequitable issues associated with the Universal Service Administrative Company‘s (“USAC”) administration of the FCC‘s Universal Service Fund (“USF”) contribution requirements.