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For Immediate Release: April 18, 2013
Contact: Robert J. Thormeyer, 202-898-9382, rthormeyer@naruc.org

State Regulators 'Disappointed' in Vonage Waiver Approval

WASHINGTON—The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners issued the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission took two major actions on telephone numbering resources:

“We are disappointed in today’s action by the Federal Communications Commission. On one hand, the commission is opening a rulemaking into whether it should give certain non-State certified telecommunications carriers direct access to telephone numbers. Initiating such an investigation will determine whether any anti-consumer problems may arise. But the agency turns this proceeding on its head by granting Vonage, a telecommunications firm providing voice services through the Internet, a waiver from existing rules, before the agency has even started its rulemaking proceeding. This action appears to not only prejudge the outcome of its rulemaking, but it also gives Vonage a distinct advantage over its competitors. Agencies conduct rulemakings to determine if an action would cause any undue harm to consumers. In addition, regulators should never give one competitor a direct advantage over others. Here, the FCC is eschewing both regulatory tenets.”
--NARUC President Philip Jones of Washington

“As a long-serving State regulator, I am confused by the FCC’s decisions today. I am well aware of how new technologies are changing the telecommunications industry. I also understand why Voice-over-IP firms like Vonage are seeking a waiver from today’s rules. But waivers should not be granted until after a thorough investigation is completed. The existing rules are in place for a reason—to protect consumers and conserve our finite telephone numbers. Without the benefits of an investigation, we simply do not know how much this will impact consumers or the market. By granting Vonage a waiver, the FCC is giving them a huge leg-up on their traditional competitors, who are required to get certification before they can access the numbering system. Not only that, they are also opening the door for other VoIP providers to get waivers as well, because the numbers given out during this trial certainly cannot be returned. To use an analogy, once the toothpaste is out of the tube, you cannot put it back in.”
--NARUC Committee on Telecommunications Chair John Burke of Vermont

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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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