House Members Seek Data Case Appeal

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One-dozen House lawmakers Monday asked the Bush administration to appeal a
case that they said dealt a serious blow to the advancement of local phone and
high-speed-data competition.

In a June 24 letter, the House members said the Department of Justice should
seek Supreme Court review of the case and ask the deciding lower court to stay
its ruling 'to prevent disruption in the broadband industry while that decision
is appealed.'

The letter was signed by nine Democrats, including Rep. John Conyers
(D-Mich.), and three Republicans, including Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah.). The
letter was sent to Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell,
U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

In the case, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in May
told the FCC its list of network elements -- those pieces of the incumbent local
phone network that must be leased to competitors -- was too broad.

The panel also overturned FCC rules that permitted high-speed-data companies
to save on cost by leasing just the high-frequency portion of a copper loop to
provide competitive digital-subscriber-line service.

The lawmakers said the D.C. Circuit's ruling injected uncertainty into the
market and clashed with a recent Supreme Court ruling favorable to the FCC on
the scope of the commission's power to promote local phone and data
competition.

'Without the clarification of a Supreme Court decision, the [FCC] and the
states could be subjected to conflicting and confusing court decisions for many
years to come,' the lawmakers said in the two-page letter.

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