COMPTELs McDowell Caught Up in D.C. Rumor Mill

The rumor mill in Washington, D.C., has been working overtime with buzz that President George W. Bush will nominate COMPTELs Robert McDowell to the FCC.

A Senate Commerce Committee spokesperson confirmed with PHONE+ this week that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chair of that committee, has publicly said he suggested McDowells name to the White House.

McDowell serves as senior vice president and assistant general counsel for the competitive carriers association; he worked there since 1999. He also is no stranger to the Bush Administration. He worked as counsel to the Bush-Cheney Florida Recount Team in 2000 and led advance teams for Bush in 2004.

McDowell has 15 years experience representing entrepreneurial telecommunications companies before the FCC, state regulatory and legislative entities and the appellate courts. He has served on the North American Numbering Council and on the board of directors of North American Numbering Plan Billing and Collection Inc. Before he came to COMPTEL, he worked as executive vice president and general counsel of America’s Carriers Telecommunications Association, which then merged with COMPTEL. He also served as outside deputy general counsel to ACTA while with the Washington, D.C.-based telecommunications law firm Helein & Associates.

COMPTEL would not comment on the McDowell rumors, said spokesperson Margaret Boles. In fact, McDowell is screening his calls to make sure media do not reach him. Still, Should anyone with experience in the competitive communications industry be appointed to the FCC, we would be supportive of that, Boles was able to tell PHONE+.

The thought of having someone like McDowell on the FCC is nothing short of thrilling for competitive carriers. Democratic Commissioners Michael J. Copps and Jonathan S. Adelstein already have shown their support for competition, and adding a representative such as McDowell only would boost carriers hopes of advancement in an industry that is quickly being deregulated.

Were just so hopeful that were keeping our fingers crossed, said Nancy Lubamersky, vice president of strategic initiatives and public policy for TelePacific Communications. For my company, we would welcome such an experienced and intelligent person on the commission.

However, Lubamersky fears the nomination of FCC Commissioner No. 5 and a competitive carrier representative, at that comes a year too late. The competitive community already has lost out on issues such as UNE-P pricing and DSL regulation, but topics of net neutrality, intercarrier compensation and the Universal Service Fund remain on the table.

As these key issues come before the FCC, it would be great to have [R]ob there, or someone like [R]ob, Lubamersky added.

Agreed, said Heather Gold, senior vice president of government relations for XO Communications. Gold credited FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin for fomenting collegiality and consensus among commissioners, especially on big decision items, and noted McDowell would work well in that environment.

If McDowell is appointed to the commission, he will go through a learning curve on issues unrelated to telecom such as indecency, Gold pointed out, but hes a quick learner, she said. I think hed make a great commissioner. I think hed work very well with the chairman and the other commissioners who are in place now.

Still, for some companies, the possibility of McDowell or someone like him being seated on the FCC is too tentative for public comment.

We certainly wish all the good fortune that could be bestowed on Robert and hope he gets nominated, but we couldnt speculate on what having McDowell on the FCC would mean for competitive carriers, said Martin Clift, vice president of regulatory for Cavalier Telephone.

Sage Telecom Inc.s Robert W. McCausland, vice president of regulatory affairs, said that while he does not know McDowell personally, I know that he is knowledgeable of issues that impact our segment of the industry. Sage Telecom would not comment beyond that.

Cavalier Telephone
Sage Telecom Inc.
TelePacific Communications
XO Communications

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