AT&T has joined the ranks of petitioners seeking to overturn the Wireline Competition Bureau's tough stance on contributors' late-filed USF forms. On September 13, AT&T joined Airband Communications in seeking Commission-level review of the Bureau's Denial Order.

Note: A third carrier, Airnex Communications, filed a petition for reconsideration of the Denial Order.

AT&T asserts that the Denial Order is inconsistent with other orders granting waivers of Form 499 filing deadlines. For good measure, AT&T also asks the FCC to act on its 5-1/2 year old petition to reverse the 1-year amendment deadline that it missed in this instance.

AT&T claims that the Denial Order is inconsistent with other orders granting Form 499 revision deadline waivers for contributors. AT&T asserts:

The Bureau has acted arbitrarily and capriciously by denying Southwestern Bell’s and Centennial’s Requests for Review while granting similar requests by other carriers. Despite its assertion that “[a]dherence to deadlines and the good-cause standard for waivers is especially appropriate in the context of revisions to FCC Forms 499," the Bureau does not explain why it previously granted at least seventeen requests to waive the Form 499 filing deadlines in less than a twelve-month period.

Further, AT&T noted that in 2005 it filed an Application for Review of the Bureau order creating the 1-year amendment deadline at issue here. AT&T contended that the deadline itself is unlawful and unenforceable, saying:

[T]he deadline that the Bureau is attempting to enforce in this order was never subject to notice and comment, and the Bureau lacked the authority to promulgate a substantive change to the Commission’s contribution rules. It was therefore inappropriate for the Bureau to enforce this procedurally infirm deadline to the detriment of contributors that will otherwise contribute more than required by the Commission’s rules.

Comments on the Airband Application for Review are due September 30th and October 15th. The FCC has not set a deadline for comments on the AT&T and Airnex petitions.