The Front Lines - May 30, 2006

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Sponsored by The Helein Law Group, P.C.

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Advancing The Cause of Competition in the Telecommunications Industry


On May 26, 2006, the U.S. Senate confirmed Robert McDowell to be a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (=93FCC=94). Mr. McDowell fills the fifth and final seat on the FCC, assuming the remainder of an unexpired term that runs until June 30, 2009. McDowell's confirmation as the third Republican commissioner gives Chairman Kevin Martin a majorit of votes on the 5-person Commission for the first time since Martin took office in March 2005.

In a statement, Chairman Martin applauded Mr. McDowell's confirmation:

I congratulate Rob McDowell on his confirmation as Commissioner at the FCC. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the communications arena, and we will rely on his insight. I am anxious to have him onboard and look forward to working with a full complement of Commissioners to address the important issues before us.

According to media reports, with McDowell now positioned as the third Republican member of the agency, Chairman Martin can more aggressively pursue plans that include pressuring cable companies to offer channels ala carte and liberalizing media ownership rules. The FCC is also grappling with a triumvirate of major issues affecting telecommunications providers, including Universal Service reform, inter-carrier compensation and deciding how to regulate IP-based services.

Unlike the broadcast and media issues, for which many news reports already have Mr. McDowell supporting Chairman Martin's initiatives, the same may not be said of matters concerning wireline Bell company issues. Martin is considered more supportive of large incumbent Bell companies while McDowell has sought an approach that supports the competitive goals of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by balancing the interests of smaller competitors along with those of the Bell companies.

Mr. McDowell most recently served as CompTel's Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel. CompTel is the leading association representing small and mid-sized competitive telecommunications enterprises. Aside from representing CompTel members before Congress, the FCC and the appellate courts, McDowell is a veteran of several Republican presidential campaigns most recently as a member of the Bush-Cheney Florida Recount Team.

Prior to CompTel, Mr. McDowell served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the America's Carriers Telecommunications Association (ACTA). Mr. McDowell began his legal career at Arter & Hadden and honed his skills as an advocate during the mid-to-late 90s working as a Senior Attorney at The Helein Law Group.

On a personal note, all of us at The Helein Law Group would like to congratulate Rob on his wonderful achievement and wish him and his family all the very best.

The Front Lines is a free publication of The Helein Law Group, P.C., providing clients and interested parties with valuable information, news, and updates regarding regulatory and legal developments primarily impacting companies engaged in the competitive telecommunications industry.

The Front Lines does not purport to offer legal advice nor does it establish a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. If you have questions about a particular article, general concerns, or wish to seek legal counsel regarding a specific regulatory or legal matter affecting your company, please contact our firm at 703-714-1313 or visit our website:

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The Helein Law Group, P.C.

8180 Greensboro Drive, Suite 700 McLean, Virginia 22102
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Jonathan Marashlian
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