Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 10:55am
FCC EXAMINING FORBEARANCE PETITION REVIEW PROCESS
[SOURCE: Federal Communications Commission]
The Federal Communications Commission is examining whether there is a need for new procedures governing its review of petitions requesting forbearance from regulation.
Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Commission is required to forbear from any statutory provision or regulation if it determines that the regulation is not needed to protect consumers or to ensure just and reasonable rates and practices by carriers. The NPRM seeks comment on a number of proposed rules that the petitioners claim would help the Commission evaluate forbearance petitions, including: 1) Whether new rules should govern the format and content of forbearance petitions, 2) Whether new notice and comment rules, such as default comment periods and time limits on ex parte filings, should be adopted, and 3) Whether other rules would facilitate the participation of state commissions, as well as other parties, in forbearance proceedings. The NPRM also seeks comment on whether forbearance is an effective means for the Commission to make changes to its regulations.
* Commissioner Copps: "My experience with forbearance over the last two and a half years has been that it is a process that leaves much to be desired. Too often forbearance has resulted in industry driving the FCC's agenda rather than the reverse being true."
* Commissioner Adelstein: "The Commission's recent history on forbearance petitions - including failing to even issue an order addressing the merits of a sweeping petition - is not one to be envied. This approach has cast open the floodgates for industry-filed petitions, inviting parties to make end runs around the Congressional framework for telecommunications services."
* Commissioner Tate: "An integral part of the pro-competitive, de-regulatory national policy framework established by Congress in the 1996 Act is the section 10 forbearance provision."
* Commissioner McDowell: "By all accounts, most Members of Congress, most proponents of individual forbearance petitions, most opponents of forbearance petitions, and a majority of the FCC all agree that the forbearance petition process is flawed and should be fixed. Only Congress can amend Section 10, which is simple and clear in its mandate; but the Commission can take steps to improve its implementation. And that is what we are doing today by initiating this rulemaking."
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