FCC Releases DSL Deregulation Order

The FCC on Friday released the order on its decision earlier this summer to deregulate DSL.

The document clarified the FCCs August move to free the Bell companies from obligations to make their DSL networks available to independent Internet service providers.

It was still too early Monday afternoon for many of the RBOCs and various industry associations to comment on the order, which totaled 133 pages.

Meanwhile, in a news release, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin praised the order, which his Democratic counterparts in August reluctantly agreed to back. Deregulating DSL ends the regulatory inequities that currently exist between cable and telephone companies in their provision of broadband Internet services, Martin said. With this order, wireline broadband Internet access providers, like cable modem service providers, will be considered information service providers and will no longer be compelled by regulation to unbundle and separately tariff the underlying transmission component of their Internet access service.

The commission in August reclassified wireline broadband providers as information services. Under previous rules, DSL was considered a telecommunications service, which meant providers had to open their high-speed networks to other ISPs on nondiscriminatory terms, and follow other common carrier rules. Commissioners built on, and cited, the Supreme Courts Brand X decision in late June that let the cable TV industry deregulate its high-speed networks.

The order calls for phone companies to keep their transmission offerings available to independent ISPs for one year, and also stipulates they keep contributing proceeds from their Internet access services to the Universal Service Fund for another nine months, or until the FCC adopts new contribution rules. The commission further is enforcing its requirement that providers open their DSL networks to law enforcement wire taps to comply with CALEA rules.

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