COMPTEL CEO: Competitors Must Work on Offensive, Not Defensive, Game

The honeymoon period is over for the new head of the countrys competitive telecommunications industry. Earl Comstock, who was named president and CEO of COMPTEL in June 2005, wants to set a new tone for the organization during his second year as its leader.

Rather than just playing defense and going into the next round of FCC policymaking and legislation, we need to have a firm agenda, he said in an advance interview about his message to the COMPTEL team, which will kick off the conference today at 1:15 p.m. What are the core elements that need to be there for competition? We need to start focusing on message rather than just responding to events driven primarily by the Bells.

His address today will focus on moving competition and COMPTEL members forward. We need to determine where we fit in this new world going forward, he said.

To do that, he said, COMPTEL members need to identify core needs for competitors regardless of their business plan to function. From there, members more easily can find their place in the debates over net neutrality, universal service funding and intercarrier compensation.

The main focus is really trying to rally the industry around a core set of principles that can be taken to policymakers at the FCC and Congress [that outline] the key things that need to be in place for the competitive industry to survive, he said.

He noted that financial markets are starting to respond more favorably to competitive business models partially as a result of consolidation and partially on their merits. So were starting to do a decent job in articulating to Wall Street and others that were scared off by the tech bubble why [competition] is important, he said. But were not translating that to policymakers at the federal or state level.

He said COMPTEL members and competitors in general must do a better job of articulating the value they provide to constituents.

While theres consolidation, many companies are seeing growth and continued success in primarily the small business market, he said, noting market share gains against the Bells.

In addition, he said competitors are going to be important to serving the 60 percent of customers not served by Bell broadband platforms such as Verizons FiOS and AT&Ts Project Lightspeed.

It comes down to aligning ourselves more with [the fact that] we give consumers a choice,” he said. If Congress wants consumer choice and for people to have all these wonderful services over broadband, what are the key things they need to do to ensure that the benefits that come from competition stay in place?


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