In accepting the Champions of Competition award from the CompTel/ASCENT Alliance on Sunday, FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin admonished the industry to take up the fight. Its time to speak now or forever hold your peace, he said to an invitation-only audience gathered at the Anaheim Hilton on the first day of the associations spring conference and exhibition.
Martin, who was acknowledged for his commitment to competition first and deregulation second, said the battle to preserve local competition is not over and in fact is more tenuous today that it was one year ago, citing incumbents success at moving the debate from policies that can advance competition to how the rules should be made more fair to the incumbents.
The fight is up to you, he said, adding, Im afraid we may be losing.
The commissioner urged alliance members to turn the discussion toward the benefits of local service competition, including $5 billion in consumer savings.
He added that it is disappointing that the ILECs have not followed through on their commitments to invest in new infrastructure by claiming the old rules are discouraging investment when the old rules do not apply to new facilities. It also is very disappointing to the commission that there is very little local competition, he said.
When asked if the FCC had thought of revoking Bell 271 authority to provide in-region long distance, he said the commission has not considered a particular case but would do so if appropriate. The commissioner says one of the frustrating things is the incumbents argued that unbundling counted as facilities-based competition to satisfy the statutory requirement to achieve and preserve local competition as part of their 271 compliance hearings, yet now are arguing that its parasitic competition as part of the review of the unbundling rules.