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For Immediate Release: February 19, 2013
Contact: Rob Thormeyer, 202-898-9382, rthormeyer@naruc.org

NARUC Telecom Task Force Seeks Comments on Draft 'Principles' by March 1

WASHINGTON—A State regulatory task force on telecommunications policies is seeking comment on an initial set of draft principles articulating key telecommunications responsibilities for State utility regulators.

The document is the first work product of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Task Force on Federalism and Telecommunications. NARUC President Philip Jones of Washington established the group in November 2012. Comments on the document are due by March 1.
 
Task Force members posted the principles online on Feb. 19. In addition, the members sent solicitations to interested parties seeking written comments suggesting modifications/subtractions/supplements to the principles along with a request for any other relevant papers or comments that might help in its deliberations. Comments are due March 1, and any interested party is welcome to participate.

Those that wish to comment on the principles in writing should send documents to jramsay@naruc.org. The subject line should say NARUC TASK FORCE ON FEDERALISM. 

The task force  is focused on updating and revising the 2005 NARUC “Federalism and Telecom” White paper, available online, to, among other things (i)include a framework for the role of States and how States interact and react to decisions by the Federal Communications Commission, other federal agencies, and the Courts on State jurisdiction; (ii) provide an updated negotiating framework for any pending federal rewrite of the federal telecommunications law; and (iii) provide principles to evaluate State-level telecommunications legislation. To examine the Task Force complete charter got to: (http://www.naruc.org/Publications/12_1114_CharterTF_FederalismTelecom.pdf).

“I am pleased with the progress we’ve made to date,” said President Jones. “Throughout our deliberations, we will reach out to all stakeholders, and I encourage anyone with an interest in these issues to participate. Any comments we receive will improve our final product.”

Commissioner Orjiakor Isiogu of Michigan chairs the Task Force. Other members of the group are 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. NARUC Committee on Telecommunications Chair John Burke of Vermont is an ex-officio member of the group.
 
The draft document determines that because State commissioners are closest to their citizens and best positioned to determine the level of protection and service for consumers, States should take the lead in the following areas:

  • Consumer Protection: States and State regulators can best ensure that mass market users have state-of-the-art, affordable, and reliable services (including broadband), regardless of technology
     
  • Public Safety/Reliability of Communications Services: States and State regulators have an obligation to protect the welfare and safety of their constituents
     
  • Competition: States and State regulators are best positioned to judge the actual level of competition in their States
     
  • Interconnection: Networks must remain interconnected on a non-discriminatory basis to ensure ubiquitous service
     
  • Universal Service: States and State regulators are best positioned to determine the optimum method for ensuring the availability of broadband and voice services
     
  • Regulatory diversity: Regulation should be "functional" and decided after reviewing and evaluating constitutional and statutory State and federal roles and exploring multiple points of view
     
  • Evidence-based decisionmaking: Regulatory decisions should be made only after open discussion, with all parties listening to all others
     
  • Broadband Access, Affordability, and Adoption: State regulators should take the lead role in determining State requirements for broadband deployment and consumer protection
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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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