DSL Issue Postpones FCC Meeting


The Federal Communications Commission postponed Thursday’s open meeting until Friday apparently because chairman Kevin Martin needed more time to produce a majority for his plan to deregulate digital-subscriber-line service provided by local phone companies.

A few weeks ago, Martin said he wanted to classify DSL as an information service, just as the agency had done for cable-modem service in March 2002. Martin emphasized DSL deregulation after the Supreme Court affirmed cable-modem deregulation in the Brand X case handed down in late June.

“I think in light of the court decision, that put a lot of pressure on everyone,” an FCC source said.

Because the agency is evenly divided between two Republicans and two Democrats, Martin is unable to move his agenda forward without bipartisan cooperation.

But DSL deregulation is far more complicated that the FCC’s ruling on cable-modem service. DSL has traditionally been heavily regulated. Business plans were spawned and cost-accounting rules were adopted in response to the FCC's common-carrier regime that applied to DSL.