FCC rebuffs Qwest on deregulation request
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has turned down a petition from Qwest, which requested that it be relieved of line-sharing requirements in four U.S. markets.
The rules date from the time when the Baby Bells had a monopoly on phone service, and the FCC demanded that they make their lines available for rivals to use to provide competitive services.
The FCC previously granted Qwest forbearance from having to comply with those rules in Omaha, after Qwest demonstrated that the Omaha market was fully competitive.
In its recent petition, Qwest argued that four more markets (Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix and Seattle) are now fully competitive, and so it should no longer be subject to the line-sharing rules in those markets, either. Qwest’s main line of argument is that cable companies have been successful selling VoIP services in those markets.
The FCC was not convinced by the evidence that Qwest provided, but it left the door open for subsequent petitions.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wrote: “Although significant competition exists in Qwest’s markets, particularly in Phoenix, the Commission determined based on the specific market facts provided to us that Qwest’s petitions did not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that regulatory relief like that afforded the company in Omaha was warranted. As competition in these markets continues to develop, I am happy to reevaluate these markets based on updated market facts.”
Concurring with the opinion, Commissioner Michael Copps wrote, “I continue to believe that the Telecom Act envisioned more than just a cable-telephone duopoly as sufficient competition in the marketplace.”
Separately, the FCC is expected to formally slap Comcast on the wrist for blocking peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic as early as Friday. The consensus expectation is that Comcast will be chastised but not fined.
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