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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

FCC 97J-1
Released: September 17, 1997


CC Docket 96-45

In its Report and Order on Universal Service,(1) released May 8, 1997, the Commission, acting on the recommendation of the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service (the Joint Board), encouraged the Joint Board to establish a Rural Task Force (RTF) to "provide valuable assistance in identifying the issues unique to rural carriers and analyzing the appropriateness of proxy cost models for rural carriers."(2) The Commission suggested that the Joint Board establish the RTF shortly after the Report and Order so that the findings of the RTF can be included in any Joint Board report to the Commission submitted before the Commission issues a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on a forward-looking economic cost mechanism for rural carriers, scheduled to occur by October 1998.(3) Although it noted that the Joint Board has the responsibility to appoint the members of the RTF, the Commission recommended that the RTF include broad industry representation, including rural carriers, as well as a representative from remote and insular areas.(4) Finally, the Commission suggested that the meetings and records of the RTF be open to the public.(5)

Consistent with the Commission's recommendations, the Joint Board hereby announces the creation of a RTF. The RTF will focus solely on studying the establishment of a forward-looking economic cost (FLEC) mechanism for rural telephone carriers. Specifically, the RTF will consider whether a FLEC mechanism for rural carriers should have different platform design features or input values than the mechanism adopted for non-rural carriers.(6) Three subgroups of the RTF will focus on the specific issues of platform design, input values, and the timing of the transition to the FLEC mechanism. The subgroups will report their findings to the RTF. The RTF will then present a report to the Joint Board that makes specific recommendations on the rural FLEC mechanism. The Joint Board will then file a report with the Commission evaluating the RTF's recommendations. The Joint Board report will be filed prior to October 1998, when the Commission will commence a proceeding to establish a FLEC mechanism for rural carriers.

The Federal-State Joint Board solicits nominations for membership in the RTF. The Joint Board will choose RTF members from among the nominations submitted in response to this Public Notice. Members will be selected who are judged to be knowledgeable about either the engineering, economics, or policy concerns of a local exchange network. Nominees should also represent a variety of economic, social, and geographic interests in order to ensure that the RTF membership is well-balanced. Candidates should have sufficient resources to devote to the project, including adequate funding for travel and other expenses. There will be no federal funding available for members of the RTF. The RTF will make its recommendation to the Joint Board by June 15, 1998. We anticipate that the RTF will meet at least three times prior to that date.

The RTF will be comprised of seventeen (17) members. Membership will be comprised of representatives of various groups, allocated as follows:

Category 1: Incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) serving rural areas, their associations, or their consultants. 5 positions (four of which must be ILECs with annual operating revenues of $40 million or less)
Category 2: Rural competitive local exchange carriers, their associations, or their consultants. 2 positions
Category 3: Consumer advocates, their associations, or their consultants. 2 positions
Category 4: Interexchange carriers, their associations or their consultants. 2 positions
Category 5: Representative of insular areas and/or Alaska, its associations or its consultants. 1 position
Category 6: State regulator. 1 position
Category 7: Other non-ILEC participants (other appropriate representatives, including those of groups with special interest concerns, such as individuals or groups representing the concerns of Native Americans). 4 positions

Each Joint Board member will select two nominees to serve on the RTF, expect for the Chairman of the Joint Board, who will select three nominees. The Joint Board will ensure that the appropriate number of representatives as set forth above are designated for each category. After the Joint Board has appointed the RTF members, the RTF members will vote to select a member to serve as chairperson.

Anyone may nominate a candidate for membership in the RTF. Each nomination should include the nominee's professional and biographical information, such as a resume or professional biography. Nominations should also clearly state the category (e.g., Interexchange carrier) for which each nominee is to be considered.

All nominations must be submitted by October 15, 1997 to the Secretary of the Federal Communications Commission, 1919 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20554 and to Astrid Carlson, Federal Communications Commission, 2100 M Street, N.W., 8th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20554. Parties should also send copies of their nominations to the individuals listed on the attached Service List (Appendix). Questions regarding this Public Notice or the nominations process may be directed to Astrid Carlson at (202) 418-7369.

Appendix -- Service List

The Honorable Julia Johnson, State Chair
Florida Public Service Commission            
2540 Shumard Oak Blvd.                 
Gerald Gunter Building                  
Tallahassee, FL  32399-0850             

The Honorable David Baker                    
Georgia Public Service Commission       
244 Washington Street, S.W.             
Atlanta, GA  30334-5701                 

The Honorable Laska Schoenfelder             
South Dakota Public Utilities Commission          
State Capitol, 500 East Capitol Street      
Pierre, SD  57501-5070

The Honorable Martha S. Hogerty
Public Counsel
Missouri Office of Public Counsel
301 West High Street, Suite 250
P.O. Box 7800
Jefferson City, MO  65102

Charles Bolle
South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
State Capitol, 500 East Capitol Street
Pierre, SD  57501-5070

Bridget Duff, State Staff Chair
Florida Public Service Commission
2450 Shumard Oak Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL  32399-0866

Phillip F. McClelland
Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate
1425 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA  17120

Tiane Sommer 
Georgia Public Service Commission 
244 Washington Street, S.W.  
Atlanta, GA  30334-5701

Sheryl Todd (plus 8 copies)
Federal Communications Commission
Accounting and Audits Division
Universal Service Branch
2100 M Street, N.W., Room 8611
Washington, D.C.  20554

Rowland Curry
Texas Public Utility Commission    
1701 North Congress Avenue
P.O. Box 13326
Austin, TX  78701

Ann Dean
Maryland Public Service Commission
16th Floor, 6 Paul Street
Baltimore, MD  21202-6806

1. Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, CC Docket No. 96-45, Report and Order, 62 F.R. 32862 (rel. May 8, 1997) (Universal Service Order).

2. Universal Service Order at para. 253.

3. Id.

4. Id.

5. Id.

6. See Universal Service Order at paras. 254-255.