Sunday, March 27, 2005

FCC Rules States Cannot Force Bells to Provide Standalone DSL

The FCC ruled that Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia and other state telephone commissions cannot require incumbent carriers to sell DSL service to consumers who have opted to purchase traditional voice service from a CLEC.

For several years, BellSouth has implemented throughout its operating region a policy not to sell DSL service to end user customers purchasing voice services from competitive LECs utilizing UNE loops. The FCC ruled that a state commission may not require an incumbent local exchange carrier (LEC) to provide DSL over the same unbundled network element (UNE) loop facility that a competitive LEC uses to provide voice services to that end user. The FCC reasoned that state decisions that impose such an obligation are inconsistent with and substantially prevent the implementation of the Commission's federal unbundling rules and policies set forth in its Triennial Review Order.

FCC Commissioners Michael J. Copps and Jonathan S. Adelstein dissented, saying that the ruling "unwisely flashes the green light for broadband tying arrangements." A tying arrangement occurs when a seller conditions the availability of one product on the buyer's purchase of a second product. "If it is permissible to deny consumers DSL if they do not also order analog voice service, what stops a carrier from denying broadband service to an end-user who has cut the cord and uses only a wireless phone? What prevents a carrier from refusing to provide DSL service to a savvy consumer who wants stand-alone broadband only for VoIP?"

In a statement, Jonathan Banks, BellSouth's vice president federal executive and regulatory affairs, said "This FCC order continues progress on clearing out regulatory underbrush that handicaps rolling out broadband. By affirming a single national policy in this area, this FCC action will increase the speed and efficiency of bringing to consumers new and innovative broadband service offerings over wireline networks. This order is an important step in achieving the President's goal of increased broadband deployment. This action reaffirms the FCC's triennial review decision that the FCC, not state regulators, decides what network elements must be unbundled."http://www.fcc.gov


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