WASHINGTON-The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association said Friday it will vigorously support waiver requests from small wireline carriers hoping to delay the May 24 rural wireless local number portability deadline.
“NTCA is stunned by the vehement attempts by large carriers to oppose valid requests from these small carriers. It looks like a case of the giants trying to beat down on the little guys because they are disappointed by the dismal performance of LNP. These small wireline carriers do not have the vast resources of the larger wireless carriers. While they are working hard to comply with these burdensome rules, asking for a small time extension is not unreasonable,” said Michael Brunner, NTCA chief executive officer.
Although customers have had the ability to switch wireline carriers and keep their telephone numbers for many years, carriers were not required to do the necessary upgrades if no competition existed, so many small wireline carriers have never made the upgrades. These carriers were caught off guard when the FCC established the intermodal porting mandate.
The differences between the rural carriers and the nationwide and regional carriers are not new. The Federal Communications Commission said Nov. 10, 2003, that when wireless LNP was implemented, a wireline carrier had to port to a wireless carrier even if the wireless carrier did not have a presence in a rate center. A rate center is a geographic location around a switching center used by state regulators to set local rates. In other words, if a person moves from one side of a city to another, that person must change his telephone number. WLNP began in the top 100 metropolitan service areas on Nov. 24. The rest of the nation is scheduled to begin porting May 24. Rural wireline carriers are especially concerned because they may not have facilities connecting them to the wireless switch in another rate center.
NTCA and the Organization for the Promotion of Small Telephone Companies filed suit in December, claiming the FCC did not conduct a required regulatory flexibility analysis when it put the intermodal porting rules in place. That lawsuit is still pending.