FCC Asks Court to Delay USF Challenge


The Federal Communications Commission has asked a court to hold off deciding a challenge to its Universal Service Fund/intercarrier compensation reform order, saying its petition is supported by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Verizon, AT&T and others.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and others who sued the FCC over the decision will oppose the FCC petition, said NARUC.

The FCC argues in its petition that the court should hold off since it is currently considering similar issues in petitions to reconsider its decision last fall to reform the fund and migrate support from traditional telephone to broadband. Those, says the FCC are "the sufficiency and scope of the agency's new universal service system" and "the reasonableness of the Commission's plan to reform its intercarrier compensation system."

The commission argues that letting it proceed first could narrow the scope of questions "because the reconsideration petitions currently pending before the FCC raise issues central to the case before this Court -- and because the issues raised on reconsideration substantially overlap with those raised in this litigation -- the Court should "hold the appeal in abeyance pending the Commission's further proceedings," the FCC told the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

NARUC says it will fight vigorously for the case to proceed, saying that the FCC petitions would answer only a handful of the issues they raise in the suit.