The FCC on Friday agreed to extend the comment deadlines on the big telcos’ proposal to trash rules requiring them to grant wholesale access to their networks at reasonable prices.

This is very good news because, make no mistake about it, if the big telco proposal is approved, businesses and consumers will have fewer options for telecommunications service and they will pay more for it. (An immediate 15 percent increase is included in the proposal, if you can believe it.) The FCC extended the deadline for initial comments to Aug. 6 and the deadline for reply comments to Sept. 5. In doing so, it acknowledged that the initial proposal by USTelecom, which is acting on behalf of the big telcos, was incomplete. (I would have called it ridiculously inadequate, but that’s just me.)

Extending the comment deadlines will give all the interested parties time to review and respond to whatever new material USTelecom produces to shore up its scheme to eliminate competitors and grab market share.

I want to thank all those who joined Windstream in asking for the extended comment period, including, among others, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners; the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy; state regulatory commissions in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania; the Northwest Telecommunications Association, and the Wholesale Voice Line Coalition.

This fight is just starting. Windstream and its partners in Incompas, the trade group representing competitive providers of telecommunications services, will work hard to persuade the FCC to reject the big telco market-grab, or, at the very least, provide an adequate transition period that recognizes the significant technical and financial hurdles many of our customers will face when they are forced to move to new telecommunications platforms.