GTE says FCC new unbundling rules only baby steps toward deregulation

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WASHINGTON - Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued new rules governing the elements that incumbent local exchange companies must make available to competitors at prices that are often below cost. The action comes as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court remand to the FCC Jan. 25 that the agency had failed to meet the "necessary" and "impaired" standards set by the 1996 Telecommunications Act when it issued blanket unbundling rules. The following may be attributed to Alan Ciamporcero, GTE vice president of federal regulatory affairs.

With its order today the FCC has taken only baby steps in the direction of deregulation. The new rules appear to reinstate unbundled network elements (UNEs) more or less as they stood before the Supreme Court decision. These minor changes will not materially increase CLEC incentives to invest in their networks beyond the equipment that they have already installed. This is not what the Supreme Court decision envisioned.

GTE is particularly disappointed that the Commission chose to retain the switching UNE for all customers except those with four or more lines in the top 50 MSAs. GTE put evidence on the record showing that CLEC switches, capable of serving all customers, already exist in a much a broader geographic area.

The Commission appears to have made the proper decision with respect to advanced services. GTE believes that, while this is a step in the right direction, the FCC still has a long way to go to establish parity between advanced services offered by telephone and cable television networks.

GTE will review the order in detail when it is available to determine what additional steps it will take.

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