Hanging Fire With the FCC

A new Optical Oracle report sez the gummint is gonna get bizzy with telecom

February 12, 2003

2 Min Read
Hanging Fire With the FCC

Can the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) save the day? Many folks are expecting the FCC to make sweeping change to federal regulations so that RBOCs (regional Bell operating companies) will prosper and return the telecom industry to a steady, monopoly-driven state.

With telecom regulation the talk of the town (see The Other Powell Preps for FCC Vote, Senators Skeptical of Deregulation, and FCC Talk Boosts Lucent, Nortel), Light Reading’s paid research service, Optical Oracle, has prepared an entire report on the topic. Divided interests in the FCC are likely to prevent a huge shift in federal telecom policy -- though some incremental changes are likely to help the RBOC position, says the new Optical Oracle report, called "Fed Watch: U.S Regulatory Outlook," released to subscribers today.

The topic couldn't be more current. Next week, the federal agency come to a decision about current regulations for Unbundled Network Elements (UNE), which require incumbent carriers to provide competitors with low-cost access to their network infrastructures (see FCC Delays UNE Ruling).

This closely watched, and perhaps most volatile, of the issues is likely to be a thorny issue inside the FCC, says the Optical Oracle. The report, which profiles the five commissioners and handicaps their positions, concludes there is sufficient dissent to derail an effort to completely eliminate UNE -- perhaps by leaving the decision up to individual states.

But what about broadband access? There is mounting pressure for the federal government to do something to help spur broadband deployment.

This issue could bear more fruit for the RBOCs, concludes the report. FCC Chairman Michael Powell is seen as a major champion of regulatory “parity,” whereby similar services receive similar regulatory treatment. Right now, that doesn’t happen -- because cable broadband and copper-based DSL are treated in distinct nanners. Expect the FCC to switch the classification of ILEC DSL services as information services, from Title 2 to Title 1. That change would benefit ILECs by releasing their obligation to unbundle and share their DSL facilities with competitors. Expect a decision on this some time in the spring.

The full report, "Fed Watch: U.S Regulatory Outlook," is 17 pages long. It is available for sale here. A single-user subscription is $400. An annual subscription to the service, which costs $1,250, grants a user access to the report as well as the entire report archive of Optical Oracle Research.

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

Editor’s note: Light Reading is not affiliated with Oracle Corporation
(We are, however, loosely affiliated with Nora Barnacle)

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