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Tenth Circuit Denies Petitions to Review FCC Intercarrier Comp Changes

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has rejected a challenge by NTCA: The Rural Broadband Association and others to FCC intercarrier compensation changes in the commission's Universal Service Reforms.

They had taken issue with portions of the 2011 USF reform order revising how the funds were allocated and employed. The order was part of the FCC's shift of funds from traditional phone service to broadband.

NTCA was taking it well: "While today’s court decision is disappointing, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association continues to work with the FCC and Congress to address many of the concerns rural carriers have raised over the last two-plus years about aspects of the 2011 Universal Service Fund and intercarrier compensation reforms," the group said. "Through hundreds of meetings with commissioners and staff and engagement with members of Congress, we have already achieved several key course corrections since 2011, including the elimination of the quantile regression analysis caps and reinstatement of safety net additive support."

“After years of good faith efforts faltered, voting to approve the comprehensive reform of universal service and intercarrier compensation continues to be one of my proudest moments at the FCC," said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn of the decision. "The reforms are changing the lives of millions of Americans who will receive broadband for the first time. I am extremely pleased that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the FCC’s decision. I look forward to working with the Chairman and my colleagues as we tackle the next steps of reform.”

The National Association of Regulatory utility Commissioners (NARUC) suggested the legal challenge was not over.

“We are still reviewing the court’s decision today. We are disappointed in the outcome, which appears to conflict with decisions from other federal court circuits, misapplies controlling Supreme Court precedent, and provides the FCC’s decision with deference – when no deference was warranted because the cited statutory text is not ambiguous," NARUC said in a statement. "It seems more than likely that one or more of the other 30 petitioners will seek Supreme Court review of this decision. We will determine shortly whether and how we could participate in any Supreme Court review.”