June 14, 2004 1:36 PM PDT

Chief justice rejects telecom case

The U.S. Supreme Court won't stop local phone competition rules from sunsetting on Tuesday, ending the best chance AT&T, MCI and other long-distance phone companies had of keeping the rules alive.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist's clerk was notifying attorneys involved in the case of his decision on Monday, but nothing had been released yet by the court, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The decision was expected. A spokesman for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions, which filed the stay request alongside AT&T, didn't give the case much hope because it didn't have the backing of the Bush administration, which decided last week not to seek a U.S. Supreme Court review.

The rules required the Bells to lease their local phone lines to competitors at rates set by the government. The FCC imposed the rules eight years ago to open the market for local phone service to competition and lower the cost of a home phone line.

Now that the rules are all but certain to be lifted Tuesday, debate has begun on the aftermath. While it's likely the local carriers will charge competitors more, how much is subject to much disagreement. Some analysts say long-distance companies will be paying $10 more for a local phone line that they can resell, which could trigger a rise of 25 percent to 50 percent in the rates they charge their customers. Others say the effect will be small.

Representatives of the four Bell operating companies--Verizon Communications, Qwest Communications International, SBC and BellSouth--were not immediately available for comment.

The Bells argued that the amount AT&T, Sprint, MCI and other long-distance phone companies were paying for a local phone line was $10 below what it cost the Bells to maintain it. The Bells said they were losing money, along with customers.

Long-distance phone companies argued that, left to their own devices, the Bells would raise fee for access to their networks to uncompetitive levels.

The Bells fought the rules in court, emerging victorious in March when a U.S. Court of Appeals set the rules aside as of Tuesday.

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Publically paid Officials should think about who they Represent.
Publicly paid, elected & appointed Officials should think more about who pays their salary, and start working for the best interests of the public, and those small businesses who are trying to serve it, instead of being overly influenced always by BIG BUSINESS interests. There doesnt seem to be anyone looking out for the small business person.

This decision by them in my view, favors only Big Business, and seems not to consider the public consumer, or the many hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurial individuals in this country who work as Independent Representatives for Telecom companies that are currently providing Local Phone service and who depend on that commission income to provide for their families, and who will be put out of business, by these decisions.

I think it is a forgone conclusion that big business will raise leasing costs to these lower overhead, more competitive companies and put them right out of the business.

There is little doubt in my mind that big business is overjoyed with this decision, so they can go on with business as usual regardless of how inefficient and cost effective it is. And, guess who gets stuck paying for the cost of all this inefficiency? Right, the little guy, (general public), as usual. Again, Big Business gets what they want, NO COMPETITION.

If big business isn't making enough profit to satisfy their profit only interested shareholders, then perhaps they should restructure their outlandishly high cost corporate overhead, and get competitive, or head for more lucrative ventures where their over inflated corp. salaries could better be justified and absorbed.

Every product life cycle has its decline in profitability, and why these big business interests with extremely high overhead costs continue to hang on to a low profit product, like Local Telephone service, and keeping it alive only at the cost of the taxpayer via influencing our public officials, who are either too tired of fighting with them or just do not have the publics best interest at heart, is beyond me.

This is supposed to be the PSTN, and the costs to establish it has been paid for years ago, and therefore if the cost to maintain it is so high that the cost to the competition to lease these lines for resale would need to be raised to cover the costs of managing it, then that additional cost could be absorbed over the entire customer/reseller base, which would allow a level playing field for all, providing the incentive for all players to do THE BEST JOB FOR THE CONSUMER.

Its call COMPETITION, and that is what big business does not want, because they know that they are not cost competitive, and should not even be in this business given their high overhead.

This is just another example of the little guy in our society being overlooked by our Public Officials in favor of Big Business, while the public who apparently is not represented gets the short end of the stick.

Where is the Government of the people for the people that should be fostering individual entrepreneurial efforts, rather than lining the pocket of the fat cats?

Hey guys & gals. We the public pay your salary too. How about representing us!
Posted by hotoppsgrp (1 comment )
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Doesn't matter to me.
I got rid of land line phones 3 years ago and couldn't be happier. I'm strictly a cell phone user now and can't imagine why I would ever consider a land line again. They are expensive, nearly impossible to keep private, nonportable, subject to direct marketing, crank calls, confusing price structures etc. I know cell phones have their drawbacks as well but they simply don't affect me in my daily use.

My cell phone bill never varies, I rack up at least 20 hrs/mo in free long distance. All of my family across the country use a carrier with unlimited free in network calling. No one has my number except who I give it to. I use cable modem/wireless/VPN for computers. I mean come on, the list of pros goes on and on for me with virtually no cons.
Posted by Guido Muldoon (24 comments )
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Lets promote COMPETITION not STAGNATION
If you allow BellSouth, Qwest, SBC, and Verizon to set pricing on access to their copper they will monopolize the networks of this country. Now more than ever we need to support the American dream and create competition. I understand that money controls decision making in Washington
but it is the hard working people of this nation that make the ultimate sacrifices.
Posted by (2 comments )
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silly liberal
regulation kills competition
Posted by edraven (5 comments )
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