Associations Encouraged By Barton Effort to Recognize Rural ConcernsSeptember 15, 2005, Arlington, Va. - While noting they have yet to conclude a comprehensive review of a draft Communications Act rewrite released earlier today by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), four rural telecom associations have indicated they are cautiously encouraged by the chairman`s action. Shirley Bloomfield, on behalf of the Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance (ITTA), National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) and the Western Telecommunications Alliance (WTA) said “There are simply too many outstanding policy questions that must be resolved sooner rather than later. At the very least, the circulation of this draft at this time signals the chairman’s recognition of that notion and serves as a starting point for meaningful debate.”
The associations indicated that while Barton’s draft appears to establish new definitions of communications-oriented services and the policy parameters in which he envisions them operating, it also seems to acknowledge that there remains a need to tie in elements of the traditional structure that currently guides the communications industry. “We are pleased to see that the draft recognizes the need for communications providers to live up to their universal service and reciprocal compensation responsibilities, though we would like to see these guidelines even more definitive. Our objective going forward will be to ensure these draft provisions are strengthened from the perspective of rural carriers and consumers to fully ensure we are able to maintain a nationwide integrated communications infrastructure that has proven so critical to our economic and national security.”
The associations look forward to working with Chairman Barton, Representative Dingell and other Congressional leaders to ensure that all Americans continue to have access to vital communications services.