CLECs blast petition to open number resources to Vonage, other VoIP providers

Plan would hasten phone number exhaust, critics say

The Federal Communications Commission should reject a petition filed by Vonage (NYSE: VG) and other VoIP providers seeking direct access to numbering resources, CLEC representatives argued this week, raising the specter of "amplified regulatory confusion" and complaints across the telecommunications industry.


Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT) and attorneys, along with the federal regulatory affairs chief at COMPTEL, raised "significant" CLEC industry concerns over the Vonage-led petition at a meeting with FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel's wireline legal adviser, a regulatory filing Wednesday indicates.

Granting petitioners the sought-after limited rule waiver to allow them direct access to public North American Numbering Plan telephone numbers would, without question, "accelerate number exhaust," James Falvey, counsel for the industry representatives at the meeting, wrote in a June 13 ex parte letter.

Arguing against the petition, Falvey said Vonage lacks "the requisite numbering expertise" of ATIS Local Routing Number (LRN) Assignment Practices to be given direct access to numbers. Moreover, he said, because of Vonage's lack of understanding of numbering rules and practices, the VoIP provider "completely miscalculates the enormous adverse effect" that granting an FCC rule waiver would have on number exhaust.

What's more, Falvey, a member of the Utilities and Telecommunications Practice Group at Eckert Seamans, argued if commissioners were to side with petitioners, it would be "discriminatory" since such a decision would essentially afford "carrier rights to certain non-carriers that do not also shoulder carrier obligations."

For their part, Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T) have argued VoIP carriers should be allowed direct access to numbering resources so long as VoIP providers follow the same rules as other carriers.

Falvey said he is not surprised by the Verizon and AT&T position. The two "most dominant" carriers in the industry "are eager to create a new, parallel regulatory regime devoid of critical pro-consumer and pro-competition protections," he wrote.

"While advocating for fundamental industry change, neither dominant carrier has attempted to address the series of clarifications that would have to be made to the commission's rules if the commission were to consider giving direct access to number resources to Vonage or other petitioners."

In addition to Falvey, meeting with the FCC's Priscilla Delgado Argeris was Erin Boone, senior corporate counsel for Level 3; Greg Rogers, deputy general counsel for, and COMPTEL's Karen Reidy, the ex parte letter indicates.

The petition before the FCC Common Carrier Bureau is Vonage Holdings Corp. Petition for Limited Waiver of Section 52.15(g)(2)(i) of the Commission's Rules Regarding Access to Numbering Resources, CC Docket No. 99-200 (March 4, 2005).

For more:
 - read the CLEC ex parte letter

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