In what the Federal Communications Commission itself described as a partial approval, the agency ruled to allow AT&T forbearance from broadband access rate regulation. The telco giant will no longer have to publicly publish its business access rates, which helped CLECs structure their own rates competitively, and also, in theory, kept AT&T from crafting special deals and discounts for some customers.
If this is only a partial victory, it's not exactly clear to us which parts of AT&T's forbearance request weren't approved. You can expect an uproar from CLECs--and they can make use of the new complaint system the FCC created along with this ruling. Some thought the FCC would rule on similar petitions by Qwest and other ILECs, but those requests remain under examination. This is the first time the FCC has actually acted on a forbearance request. Verizon's request last year was granted because the deadline to act on it passed with FCC deadlocked. Qwest withdrew and re-filed its request last month when the FCC again appeared too deadlocked to act.
- The Wall Street Journal has this story (Sub. req.)
- The FCC had until midnight last night to act