FCC heeds Goddard's advice against Qwest deregulation

Chris Rizo Jul. 26, 2008, 5:33pm

Terry Goddard (D)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-Siding with Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, the Federal Communications Commission has denied Qwest Communications Inc. the ability to charge higher rates to companies that use its lines to provide their own telephone service.

The company had sought a forbearance that would allow the telecommunications company to charge unregulated wholesale rates to competitors in four markets: Phoenix, Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Seattle.

FCC commissioners said they denied the four requests because the Denver-based company failed to provide enough evidence to support its reasoning for the request.

"Although significant competition exists in Denver-based Qwest's markets, particularly in Phoenix, the commission determined based on the specific market facts provided to us, that Qwest's petitions did not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that regulatory relieve like that afforded the company in Omaha was warranted," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said.

In a concurring statement, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said large phone companies that plan to make similar petitions should be prepared to prove their cases.

"Today's denial of Qwest's petition for regulatory relief in Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, and Phoenix should hopefully send a signal to those considering similar requests that the commission is cautious, even skeptical, of granting this kind of hurried and ill-considered relief," Copps said.

In a letter to the FCC, Goddard said he was worried that completion could be harmed if Qwest's request for forbearance in Phoenix and three other markets is granted.

"Given the apparent success of Phoenix's competitive market, I am deeply concerned about a change that would remove Qwest's requirement to make available portions of the public switched network at cost-based rates," wrote Goddard, a Democrat.

The commission's decision was praised by Qwest competitors, including XO Communications, based in Herndon, Va.

"This decision is a victory for competition and consumers, and ensures that millions of business and residential customers throughout Qwest's region will continue to benefit from choice, innovation and lower prices," said Heather Burnett Gold, senior vice president of XO Communications.

"The FCC reached its unanimous decision through rigorous analysis of market data. The evidence refuted Qwest's arguments and exposed their forbearance petitions as premature," she added.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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