The FCC Waiting Game

Speculation about the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Triennial Review proceeding order -- the document that will spell out the particulars of the Commission's February 20th ruling -- is heating up. And it looks as if the lawyers will have their work cut out for them.

Salomon Smith Barney analyst Daryl Armstrong is among many looking forward to seeing the rules next week. "At this point, the ruling, itself, is believed to be complete," he writes in a Friday morning note to clients. "The commissioners are polishing their personal statements, a process which has taken longer than expected. We expect this to be a significant tome of regulatory text, spanning close to one thousand pages."

One thousand pages? Only a few weeks ago the rules were expected to be in the range of 400 to 600 pages -- and even that was considered excessive (see New FCC Rules: 600 Pages? ).

"I've heard the order itself is complete and that the staffers are writing their dissents -- and just about everyone is dissenting about something," says Jeff Campbell, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) director of technology and communications policy.

"Some have jokingly said the FCC will release the order on July 3, just before everyone leaves for the holiday," he adds. "I don't think the FCC is that cruel."

The waiting game that has become a self-parody all began back in February when the FCC reissued the rules requiring incumbent carriers to unbundle parts of their networks, making them available to competitive carriers.

The Commission's decision on February 20 said, among other things, that the states should decide where unbundling should occur (see Powell Loses FCC Vote, Fiber Players Giddy Over FCC Ruling, and Will RBOCs Spend More on Broadband?).

The FCC promised the complete rules would come in March. And, as recently as late May, an FCC commissioner reportedly told a group gathered at a securities conference in New York that the rules would come "in two to three weeks."

As evidence of the perils of trying to guess what the FCC will do, today a DSL newsletter editor issued a sort of correction regarding some FCC rules speculation -- then sort of retracted his own correction.

"A well-informed FCC source writes me my item, 'Mike Powell plans Monday to release the Triennial; watch for grave pronouncements and boring pontificating,' is no longer correct, and that a Monday release is unlikely," writes Dave Burstein, editor of DSL Prime, in a note to his media pals.

Just in case you were wondering, Burstein isn't so sure of his information.

"I've been burned lately by speculating on what the FCC will do, even with good sources, so don't take this 'correction' as being 100 percent guaranteed," he writes.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

materialgirl 12/4/2012 | 11:50:06 PM
re: The FCC Waiting Game Just as Greenspan does with the economy, Powell is using vagueness to avoid any real action. With so much complexity, everyone will read what they want into the document. Powell makes a stand without really committing to anything.
Consultant 12/4/2012 | 11:50:01 PM
re: The FCC Waiting Game Powell doesn't control the writing of the document and in fact was in the minority on the key decisions.

Better due diligence next time.

lastmile 12/4/2012 | 11:45:12 PM
re: The FCC Waiting Game Any guess as to how much longer we have to wait for news. Is there a chance that the final FCC document will be made available in 2003?
Is there any special reason for the delay or is it the usual FCC policy to keep polishing a document for ever.
lastmile 12/4/2012 | 11:39:44 PM
re: The FCC Waiting Game Is there any special reason for the delay or is it the usual FCC policy to keep polishing a document forever?
I am convinced that the final document will start the revival of this dead sector.
Any comments (good or bad) will be appreciated.
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