Sunday, February 26, 2012

Until (Separations) Hell Freezes Over

The brief item below from the February 24th issue of TR Daily seems pretty innocuous, but it is really a window into much of what is wrong with the FCC. Docket No. 80-286 was opened so that the Commission could grapple with -- and revise -- its rules relating to the separation of costs between the interstate and interstate jurisdictions in light of the ways that then-changing technologies and the marketplace were affecting existing cost assignment methodologies.

But the docket was opened in 1980 (hence the Docket No. 80-286 moniker) and since then the Commission has done too little revising and grappling. It has done too much kicking the can down the road by "freezing" the existing system in place and just extending the freezes.

The cost assignments affect ratemaking, which makes changes somewhat controversial. But this is just another example of the Commission dragging out proceedings until the decisions become largely irrelevant.

The least the Commission could do is to close the docket and transfer everything in the files to a newly initiated proceeding with a new docket number. Thirty years is long enough for the life of one docket.   

"The FCC began circulating this week a further notice of proposed rulemaking that proposes to extend the jurisdictional separations freeze that has been in place since 2001 until June 30, 2014. The additional two-year extension would help provide telcos with stability while the Commission continues to grapple with reforms to the system.  In Common Carrier docket 80-286, the Commission is calling for an extension of the existing freeze on jurisdictional separations Part 36 category relationships and cost allocation factors, which are part of the process of regulating telcos’ recovery of the costs of regulated services through charges for regulated interstate and intrastate services.  Previously, the FCC has sought only one-year extensions."