In Picking Telcordia for Number Portability, FCC Violated Both APA and FACA, Neustar Says

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By Brandon Ross

April 7 — Neustar Inc. filed a lawsuit against the FCC April 6 for choosing Telcordia Technologies to take over the contract for providing phone-number porting services in the U.S.

In its suit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Neustar said that the Federal Communications Commission's March 26 Local Number Portability Administrator (LNPA) order violated the Administrative Procedure Act for failing to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the matter as well as the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

The lawsuit was expected and doesn't impact Telcordia's plans for providing the LNPA services, a source familiar with the company's plans told Bloomberg BNA in a April 7 e-mail.

“We believe that the FCC’s decision was well-reasoned and its process was open and fair,” John Spirtos, executive vice president of iconectiv—Telcordia's U.S. operational division—told Bloomberg BNA in an April 7 e-mail. “Opening the local number portability administrator contract up to competition ultimately benefits carriers and consumers and we are confident the ruling will be upheld.”

Since the late 1990s, Neustar has provided the LNPA services, which, among other things, lets consumers and businesses keep their same telephone numbers when switching carriers.

Neustar's Legal Challenge

“Neustar seeks review on the grounds that the order (1) violates the notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §553; (2) violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. app. 2 §10; (3) violates 47 U.S.C. §251(e)(1) and the Commission's implementing rules by designating an entity to serve as LNPA that is not impartial or neutral; and (4) is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law,” Neustar's complaint said. “Neustar respectfully requests that this Court hold unlawful, vacate, enjoin, and set aside the order.”

“As a result of the order, Neustar is denied the opportunity to negotiate an extended renewal of its contracts with the NAPM and is required to begin to participate in a transition of LNPA responsibilities to Neustar's competitor,” the Neustar filing said. “Neustar is thus aggrieved by the order and has standing to challenge it.”

FACA Violations Alleged

Neustar had been saying for months that the FCC should conduct a NPRM, which would have entailed a notice and comment period on the specific issues raised by Neustar against the Telecordia decision. Neustar had long challenged Telcordia's neutrality, as well.

The selection working group (SWG) of the North American Numbering Council, the federal advisory board that made the Telecordia recommendation to the FCC, violated the FACA by failing “to create and make available records that FACA requires, hold open meetings, or maintain a balanced membership,” Neustar said in an October 2014 filing to the FCC. “[T]he 1997 SWG had nearly forty organizational members from all segments of the telecommunications industry, held open meetings, and made meeting minutes and internal documents publicly available; in contrast, the current SWG has roughly a dozen members—mostly large carriers—and did none of those things.”

According to FCC filings from Telcordia and CTIA-The Wireless Association, Telcordia intends to charge the industry a little less than $1 billion over a seven-year span to provide the LNPA services, compared to Neustar's cost of $1.4 billion over the past three years, the FCC said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Ross in Washington at bross@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at hrothman@bna.com