NTCA: Missoula Plan Provides Good Framework for Intercarrier Compensation Reform

Urges FCC to embrace and build on Missoula Plan; Makes recommendations for enhancement

October 25, 2006, Arlington, Va. - Calling it "a remarkable proposal” that represents a significant step towards reform, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) expressed support for the Missoula Intercarrier Compensation Plan in comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In the comments, NTCA said "the Missoula Plan proposes specific default rules that address the most egregious problems in the current rules while avoiding the dangers presented by a radical departure from the current access charge and reciprocal compensation concepts which could create instability and uncertainty."

"The plan provides significant consumer benefits in the form of regulatory certainty regarding future intercarrier compensation rules which will enable all providers to invest in and deploy new broadband facilities at a much faster pace throughout the United States," the comments said. NTCA also made six recommendations for enhancement of the Missoula Plan, on issues where the plan is silent or does not fully address the concerns of rural carriers, including:

  1. Classification of the Restructure Mechanism (RM) as actual LEC access cost recovery under Section 201 of the Communications Act (Act) and not as portable universal service support under Section 254
  2. Modification of the rules concerning acquired exchanges to allow exchanges purchased by a rural carrier be designated as a Track 3 Covered Rural Telecommunications Carrier (CRTC).

In the comments, NTCA recommended specific rules that should be incorporated into the plan, including rules for virtual NXXs and Enhanced Area Service (EAS) arrangements, rural CLEC intercarrier compensation and rules that would to expand the base of univer

sal service fund (USF) contributors to include all cable, wireline, wireless and satellite providers of broadband Internet access service. NTCA also recommended for inclusion in the plan specific rules to allow for a rural CLEC that is declared a rural ILEC under Section 251 of the Act to be designated as a Track 3 CRTC.

"The Missoula Plan and NTCA recommendations provide the FCC with a roadmap that will enable it to achieve its goal of reforming intercarrier compensation, sustaining universal service, and reducing the economic burden on small carriers and rural consumers," the comments said.

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The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is the premier association representing more than 560 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.
Contact Caitlin Colligan at 703-351-2086