William Barr and Laurence Tribe argue case on behalf of GTE and local telephone industry before the U.S. Supreme Court.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, GTE Executive Vice President and General Counsel William P. Barr and Harvard Law Prof. Laurence H. Tribe each presented oral arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of GTE and the other local telephone companies in AT&T; v. Iowa Utilities Board. The case involves review of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules purporting to implement the local competition provisions of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

In a special two-hour argument session, Prof. Tribe first argued that the states, not the FCC, have the authority to determine the prices at which incumbent telephone companies make their service and individual network elements available to their competitors.

Barr argued that the FCC rules governing network elements violate the Act by improperly defining which network elements should be made available to competitors. Barr also said that the Commission unlawfully required "sham unbundling" - the recombining of individual network pieces by the incumbent telephone companies into a complete service, circumventing the resale provision of the Act.

This Supreme Court proceeding arises from the 1997 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Iowa Utilities Board v. FCC. In that decision, the Eighth Circuit ruled that the states, not the FCC, had authority to implement the Act's pricing provisions. It also ruled that requiring incumbents to recombine network elements was unlawful. At the same time, the Eighth Circuit upheld the FCC rules defining what constitutes a network element and which network elements must be made available.

A decision from the Supreme Court is expected by the end of June 1999.

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