News & Insights  |  Press Releases

Related Professionals

Practice Areas


Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Wiley Rein Attorneys Help to Secure Favorable D.C. Circuit Decision Involving High-Cost Universal Service Support

November 18, 2011

Today, the D.C. Circuit issued a significant ruling that concludes a decade of litigation involving the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) non-rural, high-cost universal service support mechanism.  The order on appeal was the FCC's third attempt to adopt a support mechanism consistent with the Communications Act.  The Tenth Circuit had previously vacated and remanded two prior FCC orders attempting to create a permissible support mechanism.  In the order on appeal, the FCC responded to the Tenth Circuit's remand order by redefining key terms in the Communications Act and gathering additional record evidence.  The FCC ultimately concluded that its current universal service programs provide sufficient support and have achieved reasonable comparability between rural and urban rates. 

In Vermont v. FCC, No. 10-1184, the D.C. Circuit (Henderson, Tatel, Griffith, JJ.) affirmed that decision.  In an opinion authored by Judge Tatel, the Court found that the record evidence demonstrated sufficient support and reasonable comparability of rates, and unanimously held that the FCC's decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious.  Wiley Rein partner Helgi C. Walker argued on behalf of intervenor Verizon and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates.  With her on the briefs were Brett A. Shumate and Priscilla Delgado Argeris.