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Saturday, August 02, 2008

All in all, a good day

First, the routine: the FCC has released the proposed Eligible Services List (ESL) from USAC, and requested comments by August 14th. That's been the pattern the last couple of years: wait until everyone's on vacation, then give applicants only two weeks to submit comments. But the FCC has made it clear that it only wants comments "limited to determining what services are eligible under the Commission’s current rules." So there isn't much to comment on, really.

Simultaneously, the FCC has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to change the eligibility rules. Commenters have a full 30 days to comment. Here are my preliminary comments on the proposed changes (I reserve the right to show solidarity with our presidential candidates by flip-flopping on at least one of these at a later date):
  • filtering software: yes
  • a broader classification of basic telephone service: yes
  • dark fiber: yes
  • text messaging: whatever
  • firewall service: yes
  • anti-virus/anti-spam software: yes yes yes
  • scheduling services: no
  • telephone broadcast messaging: no
  • certain wireless Internet access applications: no
  • interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (interconnected VoIP): yes
It is wonderful that the FCC is considering the changes. It's a shame the list isn't longer. Some things that should be on the list:
  • reasonably redundancy
  • filtering service
  • anti-virus/anti-spam service

And the FCC should take this opportunity to kill the 2-in-5 rule.

But here's what worries me: the FCC has been closing ESL comments in mid-August, then considering the rather simple comments for 2 months, then releasing the ESL so late that it has to waive it's own rule about giving applicants 60 days between release of the ESL and opening of the window to file 471s.

Let's run the numbers. Let's say we're going to get a traditional 80-day window (OK, so the window has been for shorter lately; I'm a traditionalist) ending on February 5th. That puts the opening of the window on November 17th. Go back 60 days from that, and the FCC should be releasing the ESL around September 18th. Even if the NPRM gets in the Federal Register next week, the Reply Comment period will be after September 18th. So once again, there is no way the FCC is going to follow it's own rules.

I'm afraid we're looking at a very delayed ESL release. Still, I'll put up with some delay if it means a better ESL.

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