Monday, July 6, 2009

US Telecom's McCormick to Testify to House Ag Subcommittee Hearing on Broadband Stimulus 07/06/09 Walter B. McCormick Jr., President and CEO of the United States Telecom Association (US Telecom), will be a witness before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development's hearing to be held Thursday of this week, July 9, on the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus program.

McCormick's testimony will mark the first opportunity that the lobbying arm of the large incumbent telcos will have to tell Congress what it thinks of the Administration's broadband stimulus funding regulations released last week, on July 1.

The Association's CEO will also be testifying 3 days after the Wall Street Journal today broke the story (registration required) that the Obama Justice Department is opening an antitrust investigation into the business practices of the "big telcos," the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) .

US Telecom spokesman Tom Amontree stated to, in an e-mail of this afternoon, that Mr. McCormick "is scheduled to testify" at Thursday's Subcommittee hearing.

As of our posting time, the full House Agriculture Committee has not released its witness list for the hearing. The Subcommittee on Rural Development, Biotechnology, Specialty Crops, and Foreign Agriculture is chaired by Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC). The full Committee is chaired by Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-MN).

As of our posting, Committee press staff and Congressman McIntyre's office staff had not returned our calls for confirmation of the Subcommittee witness list.

USTelecom, formerly called the US Telephone Association and the largest US trade and lobbying group representing incumbent telephone operating companies, last week expressed its 'concern' with unspecified policies of the broadband stimulus guidelines jointly released last week by the US Departments of Agriculture and Commerce. In federal parlance the guidelines are called a Notice of Funding Availability, or NOFA (download: .PDF).

In a press statement of July 2 Mr. McCormick stated that US Telecom is "..concerned that some of the new mandates seem to go beyond current laws and FCC rules." Mr. Amontree was responding to's request for specific citations from the NOFA which were of concern to the trade group. The US Telecom spokesman stated that "...we are still reviewing the nofa and won’t go beyond the statement at this time," but suggested that interested observers should watch the Subcommittee testimony for Mr. McCormick's statements.
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