Court Rejects FCC on Phone Rules


A federal court in Washington, D.C., Wednesday refused to grant the Federal
Communications Commission a rehearing on phone- and data-competition rules that
were struck down in May.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit made a concession to the FCC
by staying the effective date of its ruling until Jan. 2, 2002. That deadline
appeared to put pressure on the agency to complete its rewrite of local phone-
and data-competition

rules by the end of the year.

In May, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit tossed out the FCC's
line-sharing rules, which required the incumbent Baby Bell phone companies to
lease the high-frequency portion of copper lines to competing data providers.
This rule saved money for competitors that sought to provide data, but not
voice, services.

The court also ordered the commission to rewrite rules that told the Baby
Bells which pieces of their voice and data networks had to be unbundled and
leased to competitors. The court said the FCC's list of unbundled network
elements was too broad.

BellSouth Corp. and the United States Telecom Association issued statements
applauding the court's action.

The FCC and other parties in the case can appeal the D.C. Circuit's ruling to
the U.S. Supreme Court.