FCC Denies SBC Petition

Federal regulators on Thursday denied a petition by SBC Communications Inc. that requested deregulation of Internet Protocol services.

The FCC said the forbearance petition filed by the second-largest local phone company was vague and requested exemption from requirements the regulatory agency had not yet decided whether even applied to the services in question.

The commission is examining in a broad rulemaking the extent to which rules should apply to IP services.

Although by todays action we deny SBCs forbearance petition on procedural grounds, I believe that the issues presented by this petition are important ones that require the commissions attention, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement.

SBC filed the forbearance petition Feb. 5, 2004, and today was the statutory deadline for the FCC to take action. Otherwise, the request would have been granted under the law unless San Antonio, Texas-based SBC had withdrawn the petition.

Earthlink Inc. and MCI Inc. were among those entities that asked the FCC to deny the petition, which requested forbearance of IP platform services from Title II common carrier regulations under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Title II regulations cover dozens of provisions, including a requirement that incumbents such as SBC provide underlying network access to unaffiliated Internet service providers like Atlanta-based Earthlink. The rules do not apply to TV services, which SBC plans to offer to millions of homes over networks the company is spending billions to construct.

In a positive sign for SBC, Martin indicated the agency is on a path to deregulating new services.

The removal of legacy regulations should spur investment and the deployment of new packetized networks and facilities that will bring new broadband services to all Americans throughout the nation, he said.

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