The North Carolina Utility Commission has initiated its own version of a contestability study. RTI International, the same non-profit that is busy building democratic institutions in Iraq on contract for the U.S. State Department, has been retained to conduct a survey of telecommunications providers in North Carolina.
In an open letter from Chairman Sanford, the idea of contestable markets is raised. She writes,
The study will survey incumbent local exchange carriers, competitive local providers, and other organizations actually or potentially providing alternatives to traditional voice and data services, such as wireless and "voice over internet protocol" (VOIP) services.
On Thursday, a public meeting is scheduled to outline the methodologies of the six-month study. RTI's proposal can be read here. This development is worth watching closely. In January, the Iowa Utilities Board published a similar survey of telecommunications services and last week opened a proceeding to deregulate several urban wireline markets.