Saturday, December 20, 2003

Fourth Circuit rules for CLEC in contest over interconnection agreement

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 allows competitive local exchange carriers access to the assets of the incumbent local exchange carriers, to provide local telephone service. The Act provides for state utility commissions to arbitrate the interconnection agreements between the CLECs and ILECs. In MCImetro Access Transmission Services, Inc. v. BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Williams, joined by Judge Luttig and Judge King, reversed the trial court's judgment and held in favor of the plaintiff CLEC that the arbitration award by the North Carolina utilities commission violated the Act as construed by the FCC on a number of issues and remanded the case for reconsideration of another in light of a recent FCC ruling.

One interesting aspect to the whole scheme is that the state utility commissions decide these interconnection disputes, but their views are entitled to no deference, instead the Court's task was to measure the North Carolina decision against the rulings of the FCC.

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