Washington -- In a move criticized by small
Internet-service providers, the Federal Communications Commission ruled last Tuesday that
federal resale rules do not apply to Bell Atlantic Corp. when it sells digital-subscriber
lines in bulk and at wholesale rates to its own and unaffiliated ISPs.
The FCC decision terminated an investigation into Bell
Atlantic's DSL rate sheet, called a tariff. The FCC said resale will apply when Bell
Atlantic sells DSL directly to residential and business customers.
Critics said the best per-line rates in the Bell Atlantic
tariff were reserved for the largest buyers, making it difficult for small players to
compete in the DSL arena.
"The only companies that benefit are the Bell Atlantic
LEC [local-exchange carrier], the Bell Atlantic ISP and very, very large companies such as
AOL [America Online Inc.]," said Barbara Dooley, president of the Commercial Internet
Exchange, which represents about 150 small and independent ISPs.
Dooley said Bell Atlantic threatened to withdraw the tariff
if the FCC imposed resale.
Bell Atlantic said small ISPs could take advantage of the
best wholesale DSL rates by forming a buying cooperative, but Dooley said contract
obligations imposed by Bell Atlantic made that suggestion unworkable.
"We think this is very good news from the FCC today.
This will benefit consumers, allowing ISPs to offer their customers faster Internet
services at attractive prices," Bell Atlantic spokeswoman Susan Butta said.