FCC Extends Qwest Forbearance Petition Deadline

The FCC has extended the decision date on a controversial forbearance petition by 90 days.

The deadline for the agency to act on Qwest Communications International Inc.s four-metro area request now stands at July 26. 

Qwest wants forbearance from certain loop and transport unbundling rules in Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix and Seattle.

The FCC last fall denied a similar petition from Verizon Communications Inc., which would have affected six major metropolitan regions.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes said last week she is very against the Qwest petition.

I think the Qwest forbearance petition would crush our budding competitive industry in Arizona, Mayes said at the Spring 2008 COMPTEL PLUS Convention & Expo in Nashville, Tenn.

Mayes said the Arizona commission studied competition at the zip-code level, not just the wire center, and found disturbing results.

Theres not enough competition in Phoenix or other areas to justify forbearance, she said.

Qwest wants relief from certain rules including some dominant carrier tariffing and some price cap regulations.

The FCC must rule on the Qwest forbearance petition by the extended date or the request will be deemed granted, according to the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The agency in March 2006 let a vote lapse on a Verizon forbearance petition, a move that prompted a court appeal from the competitive service provider community. The appeal was denied. To this day, the extent of Verizons relief remains unknown because when the FCC doesnt vote on a matter, it doesnt issue a written order.

Some members of Congress now are trying to eliminate the deemed granted clause to avoid another Verizon-type debacle.

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