WASHINGTON - GTE today demonstrated in comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the FCC has clear authority over the company's high speed Internet access service offering. The company filed arguments in a direct case in response to an FCC investigation of a tariff GTE filed in May to provide Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) service. Citing over 50 years of regulatory and judicial judgments holding that it is the nature of the end-to-end communications that determines jurisdiction, GTE said its service is clearly interstate and within the purview of the FCC.
GTE said in its comments, "The Internet is a 'global medium of communications that links people, institutions, corporations, and governments around the world'Because the Internet is such an expansive 'international system,' a single Internet session initiated over ADSL 'may connect the user to information both across the street and on the other side of the world.'"
"The fact that a single Internet call may simultaneously be interstate, international, and intrastate makes it inseverable for jurisdictional purposes. In such situations," the company states, "that traffic must be treated as interstate."
GTE has begun offering ADSL service under the tariff in selected central offices in California, Washington, Hawaii, Ohio, and North Carolina, with plans to roll it out in a total of 14 states. The ADSL service is being offered to Internet service providers (ISPs) which then resell it to consumers. The service enables ISP customers to access the Internet and download information up to 30 times faster than is possible with a 28.8 kbps modem.
Because the service is primarily offered to ISPs, the company maintains in the filing that it is offering an access service. The company further argues that the service qualifies for the federal tariff since the interstate traffic it will carry exceeds the Commission's requirement of 10 percent.
Alan Ciamporcero, vice president of federal regulatory matters for GTE, said "the FCC precedent is clear in both telephony and cable TV rulings. It is not the equipment or where the equipment is located, but rather the end-to-end nature of the communications that determines jurisdiction. It is clearly within the jurisdiction of the FCC, and for the commission to rule otherwise would be to ignore 50 years of communications law."