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For Immediate Release: November 19, 2012
Contact: Rob Thormeyer, 202-898-9382, rthormeyer@naruc.org

NARUC President Appoints Task Force to Examine State Role in Telecommunications

NARUC President Appoints Task Force to Examine State Role in Telecommunications

WASHINGTON—Citing tremendous changes in technology and federal jurisdiction, the national organization representing State utility regulators launched a new task force to review and set forth new policies on telecommunications regulation.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Task Force on Federalism and Telecommunications will examine whether the Association’s existing positions and resources need to be updated to keep up with changes in the telecommunications and wireless sector.

Established by NARUC President Philip Jones of Washington, the Task Force will begin with a review of the Association’s 2005 White Paper “Federalism and Telecom” and develop revisions that will include the following:
 

  • A framework for the role of States and how States interact and react to decisions by the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies;
     
  • An updated negotiating framework for any pending rewrite of existing federal telecommunications law; and,
     
  • Principles to evaluate State-level telecommunications legislation


“The changes in the telecommunications industry since 2005 are immeasurable,” said President Jones. “Back then no one knew what an iPhone was, let alone an iPad. Voice-over-Internet-Protocol technology was in its infancy, and most people still relied on their landline for service. Nowadays we can tap the Internet in our pockets and many of us have ‘cut the landline cord’ and rely solely on our smart phones. But the goal of providing reliable and affordable service remains the same, and State regulators are key players. This Task Force will examine the current landscape of the industry and determine whether NARUC’s policies should be revised. State regulators will always play a strong role and we must work with our federal counterparts, determine our core competencies, and ensure consumers are protected.”

President Jones, in consultation with NARUC Committee on Telecommunications Chair John Burke of Vermont, named Commissioner Orjiakor Isiogu of Michigan as Chair of the Task Force. He also appointed the following State commissioners: James Cawley of Pennsylvania, Paul Kjellander of Idaho, Ryan Palmer of West Virginia, Ronald Brise of Florida, Catherine Sandoval of California, and Chris Nelson of South Dakota. In addition, NARUC General Counsel Brad Ramsay, Legislative Director-Telecom Brian O’Hara, and National Regulatory Research Institute Telecommunications Principal Sherry Lichtenberg will serve as support staff.

The group will meet in person and over the phone as much as necessary, with the goal of producing a revised “Federalism and Telecom” White Paper by next November.

“The time is ripe for this kind of review,” said Task Force Chair Isiogu. “Congress is considering changes to telecommunications law, and the Federal Communications Commission is pursuing new policies as well. Meanwhile, telecommunications companies are investing billions to rebuild their systems with new technologies. As State regulators, we must make sure consumers are not left behind. I look forward to working with my colleagues and I thank President Jones for this appointment.”

“This is an important initiative and I salute President Jones for naming this Task Force,” said Telecommunications Committee Chair Burke. “The telecommunications industry is an ever-evolving one, but this means we as regulators must remain focused on our core function of protecting consumers. On behalf of the Committee on Telecommunications, I fully support this effort and look forward to receiving the final product.”
 

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NARUC is a non-profit organization founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. NARUC's member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy, and water utilities. NARUC represents the interests of State public utility commissions before the three branches of the Federal government.

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