Mike Romano, our senior vice president of policy at NTCA, had the chance to talk with the trade press at Bloomberg BNA as part of its annual “outlook” for communications policy with the administration and the new Congress, so it was gratifying to see rural telco issues profiled when the BNA review was published this week. As NTCA continues to work with policymakers on how to build future networks, the association’s Industry Committee took the forward-looking move of filing a petition on how rules will apply to IP networks. The petition calls for a rulemaking to “examine means of promoting and sustaining the ongoing evolution of the public switched telephone network … to an IP-based infrastructure through targeted regulatory relief and the establishment of tailored near-term economic incentives.”
NTCA strongly believes that such incentives would include allowing phone companies to recover costs of carrying IP traffic on their networks and providing “sufficient and predictable” universal service support for providing “standalone” broadband Internet access service to rural America.
Those of you who have worked with Mike know that he has a way with words, so I particularly appreciated his quote, saying, “To say that, once this magical ‘IP’ pixie dust is sprinkled, that regulations become irrelevant is a sweeping overgeneralization. If the FCC finds that regulations are not applicable due to IP or changes in the market, then withdraw or modify. Don’t just throw the entire thing out and hope you can recreate it later.”
I keep a magic wand in my office (courtesy of our Region 9 Director, Mitch Moore), and Mike, with his 2-year-old daughter at home, also has access to the “power” of magic wands, but it will take diligence on behalf of rural telcos, telling their stories to Capitol Hill, sharing their impacts with the FCC, fighting for ways to serve their customers efficiently, to spread the magic as we head down the IP evolution road.