U S West Fights N.M. Over DSL Service

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U S West wants the New Mexico Supreme Court to overturn a
state order requiring it to furnish competitors with sensitive cost details concerning its
proposed "MegaBit" Internet-access service.

The New Mexico State Corporation Commission recently
ordered the regional Bell operating company to supply other Internet-service providers in
the state with "vendor-specific" cost data regarding its plans to roll out
asymmetrical-digital-subscriber-line service.

"The issue is not providing the Corporation Commission
with these cost details," said Mary Owen, U S West's director of regulatory affairs.
"The issue is providing competitors with these details. That's not the way that it's
done in the real world."

ADSL technology allows consumers to surf the Internet while
talking on the same phone line. The service delivers data over copper telephone lines at
speeds of up to 7 megabits per second, or almost 250 times faster than a traditional
28.8-kilobit-per-second modem.

U S West filed its tariff to offer ADSL service in New
Mexico this past January. The process slowed to a walk, however, after the SCC staff
decided that the company's application required a separate proceeding, with formal
discovery.

"We were the first of U S West's 14 states to apply to
offer this service, and now, we're the only one where it hasn't been approved," Owen
said.

U S West objected to the SCC order because the state's ISPs
could use information about vendor costs to undercut the telco.

Under the SCC order, U S West must deliver the information
to every entity that intervened before the commission, including the New Mexico Internet
Professionals Association, New Mexico Technet, e.spire Communications Inc., GST
Communications Inc. and the state attorney general's office.U S West promptly withdrew its
tariff for offering the service.

In a prepared statement, the NMIPA said U S West wants to
launch the service on its own terms in order to "leverage its state-granted
monopoly," thereby creating an anti-competitive climate for unregulated services and
allowing it to "extend its monopoly into those markets, as well."

"We understand that U S West is making very good money
on MegaBit in other states, and we have no problem with that," NMIPA president Hank
LeMieux said, in the statement. "The problem is, that's not enough for them: They
appear to want to dominate unregulated services, as well. We don't think that's
appropriate for a state-granted monopoly."

Edward J. Lopez Jr., U S West New Mexico's vice president,
responded with his own statement, in which he said, "New Mexicans will have to wait
for the benefits of this ultrafast service because competitors have exploited the
regulatory process to erect barriers and cause delays."

Owen said it was unclear what options U S West might pursue
if the Supreme Court declines to hear its appeal.

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