Feb. 2, 2014 – 5:53 p.m.

Telecommunications: Charles W. ‘Chip’ Pickering Jr.

Former Mississippi Republican Rep. Charles W. “Chip” Pickering Jr. has been a lobbyist since retiring from the House and a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2008. He is now CEO of COMPTEL, a trade group for smaller telephone and wireless companies that compete with established carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Communications.

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Pickering, 50, divides his time between Washington and Jackson, Miss., where his old firm, Capitol Resources, is headquartered. He lobbied for COMPTEL and some of its member companies while at Capitol Resources, in addition to working for energy, education and defense clients.

Small telephone companies have a busy agenda for the next several years, including lobbying for the Federal Communications Commission to regulate companies’ switch to all-Internet protocol (IP) networks, which will provide Internet phone service. There is also congressional interest in rewriting a 1996 law that governs the telecom industry to reflect new technologies. “This gave me a chance to focus on something that has been my primary work over the last 20 years,” Pickering says, “and to have the leadership position within the telecom community.”

Pickering was a telecommunications legislative aide to Mississippi Republican Sen. Trent Lott and a professional staff member for the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee before he was elected to the House in 1996. On Lott’s staff, he had responsibility for 1992 legislation that required cable companies to carry local broadcasters’ signals, and he later worked on a 1993 law that gave the FCC authority to auction spectrum licenses. On the Commerce staff in 1994-95, he helped with negotiations that led to the 1996 telecommunications law.

This past December, two House Republicans, Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon, called for a rewrite of the 1996 law. Pickering says COMPTEL and allied public interest groups will emphasize that “competition works” whenever Congress gets around to holding hearings on the law’s update.