UNE-P Court Decision roils the indies

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A three-judge panel in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the FCC’s Triennial Review Order with regard to network unbundling rules. The FCC rules, which were announced in February 2003. The Court of Appeals said the FCC erred by not providing unified, federal guidelines and by pushing many FCC decisions to the states. The court also upheld the Triennial Review Order’s exemption provided to incumbent carriers from unbundling for certain fiber-fed loops and for line sharing, says Converge Digest. FCC Commissioners Michael Copps, Kevin Martin and Jonathan Adelstein hate the decision, while FCC Chairman is quite thrilled, reports Converge Digest

In plain speak, Powell scored, and rest of the FCC commissioners got a smack down. Or as Kevin Werbach says:

bq. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned significant portions of the FCC’s Triennial Review order from last year.  So, essentially, we now have FCC Chairman Powell’s policies for today’s networks, and Commissioner Kevin Martin’s policies for tomorrow’s.  This makes things even worse than before.

The Regional Bells’s mouthpiece, inappropriately named US Telecom Association (USTA) was ready to pop the champagne, but to them we say, not so fast. “We have seen these appellate decisions go back and forth to no avail,” says Greg Gorbatenko, analyst for Marquis Investment Research. “We have been here before and it meant squat.” In addition, MCI is looking for an emergency stay and Supreme Court review of UNE rules.

My take – by the time this whole mess gets resolved the VoIP will become a real problem for the bells which are basically sitting on their haunches trying to protect a 20th century franchise in the 21st century.

* AT&T Response: At a time when consumers and small business owners are just beginning to realize the benefits of competition, the D.C. Circuit today held up a stop sign and halted eight years of progress. This decision is not in the public interest, but is instead in the interest of four Bell monopolies.

* Covad Response: The DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision reversing the FCC’s Triennial Review Order decision is misguided and flawed, but not unexpected. This group of judges has been consistently hostile to the FCC’s competition policies. We expect that the court’s decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court, and reversed.

* State Regulators: The state commissions throughout this country have spent considerable time and effort conducting hearings, reviewing documents and analyzing records because the D.C. Circuit two years ago called for a granular analysis of the state of local competition in each telephone market.

* Z-Tel response: Z-Tel still has agreements with the Bell companies that give us access to unbundled network elements, and those agreements remain in effect. As a result, until the court decision is overturned or until the FCC adopts new rules, we will continue to purchase network elements and provide service to our customers under our existing agreements and state law.

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