Ad Hoc Coalition Files Second Petition with FCC to Reform USF Rules

On September 4, 2009, on behalf of the Ad Hoc Coalition of International Telecommunications Companies ("Coalition"), The CommLaw Group filed a Petition for Declaratory Ruling ("Petition") with the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC" or "Commission").  On September 28, 2009, the FCC placed the Petition on public notice, seeking comments on the Coalition's proposals.  Initial comments are due by October 28, 2009 followed by reply comments due by November 12, 2009.  

The Coalition is comprised primarily of, but not limited to, prepaid and pre-subscribed international long distance service providers.  These providers voluntarily and anonymously joined forces in an effort to remedy certain discriminatory and inequitable issues associated with the Universal Service Administrative Corporation's ("USAC") administration of the FCC's Universal Service Fund ("USF") contribution requirements.  

The Petition requests declaratory rulings that USAC lacks authority, and the Commission lacks jurisdiction, to assess USF fees on revenues derived from certain international traffic or, in the alternative, that the Commission initiate a rulemaking proceeding in which to evaluate the Coalition's claims.  Specifically, the Coalition challenges USAC's interpretation of its instructions to Form 499-A by which it assesses USF fees on international traffic that originates and terminates abroad.

The Coalition finds that USAC's interpretation violates FCC rules and policies, as well as the mandates of the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), and is thus both substantively and procedurally invalid.  Further, the Coalition challenges the FCC's exercise of jurisdiction over non-U.S. companies with no U.S. nexus.  The Coalition argues that USAC and the FCC have improperly and indirectly attempted to attain jurisdiction over these companies though pass-through fees and surcharges.  

The Petition is available for review here.

In addition to the instant Petition, the Coalition is currently considering filing additional petitions to seek review of a variety of other USF administration issues that are particularly burdensome and which unfairly impact International Telecommunications Companies.  

Interested parties are encouraged to monitor this proceeding and submit relevant, supportive comments and reply comments.  

Interested parties are also invited to support the efforts of the Coalition through voluntary contributions.  Taking advantage of this opportunity does not obligate disclosure of a party's name as a Coalition member.  Further, there is no requirement to contribute to this filing or the future endeavors of the Ad Hoc Coalition of International Telecommunications Companies.  

Please consider supporting the Coalition in its efforts to purge the federal Universal Service Fund of ambiguous, inconsistent, and imbalanced contribution requirements which frequently result in the inequitable treatment of wholly or predominantly international services providers.  

Parties interested in submitting comments or in learning more about the Coalition's efforts, membership, and how to support the Petition or future endeavors should contact Jonathan S. Marashlian at
jsm@commlawgroup.com
.

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