Irregular Comments Filed

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A recently formed group, calling itself the IRREGULATORS, has filed comments with the FCC on the Commission’s proposal to extend the freeze on jurisdictional separations category relationships and cost allocation factors for another 18 months (See April 6th Blog).

The IRREGULATORS is a self-described “independent consortium of retired and semi-retired telecom experts, analysts, policy wonks, forensic auditors and lawyers.” Its members are “former senior staffers from the FCC, state advocate and Attorneys General Office experts and lawyers, as well as former telco staff and consultants.”

In its comments, the IRRERULATORS note with skepticism the 16 years of extensions already granted to the freezing of the cost allocation rules “that are applied to revenues and expenses of AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink’s state utilities, which they control.”

The FCC is excoriated for “steam-rollering” and “doing a hatchet job on a series of upcoming proposals. The screed continues: “From Broadband Data Services (BDS), to the shutting off the copper networks, or the IP Transition, the FCC plans are to gut all customer protections, block competition, and harm all businesses that rely on these data services.”

The comments go on to ask, “How can the agency, then, attempt to shut down and delay examination of the accounting rules that are directly tied to these other items?”

The answer? “The FCC must audit the financial accounting books of the incumbent state utilities immediately and stop all proceedings until it actually does the proper analysis of Business Data Services (formerly called “Special Access”), revenues and profits, as well as the treatment of copper utility networks, or the financial impacts of the IP Transition.”

Additionally, the IRREGULATORS object to extending the freeze of category relationships and cost allocation factors, “on the grounds that it is being done as a cover-up so that actual financial data is excluded from the FCC rulemaking process.” The group calls the FCC “negligent in examining the harms that its Big Freeze has caused over a decade,” and requests “an investigation into the FCC’s processes by the Inspector General’s Office.”

Considering that the industry is facing eighteen years with no separations reform, and given the rise of huge and powerful monoliths like AT&T and Verizon, it is not irrational to understand the impassioned irritation of the IRREGULATORS.