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FOLLOWING THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY AND RELATED LEGAL TOPICS

Monday, December 03, 2007

Commission Examines Formalized Forbearance Procedures

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) released on November 30, 2007, the Commission responded to a petition filed by several CLECs asking the Commission to tighten its procedural requirements for granting forbearance under Section 10 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (“Act”).

The CLECs asked for rules establishing notice and burden-of-proof requirements, opportunity for comment, and access to documents in forbearance proceedings.

Approval of the petition marks a significant win for CLECs, who have been abused by last-minute submissions made by the Bells to the Commission. The Bells have used the lax forbearance rules to their advantage in recent years. Currently the Bells are permitted to ask the Commission to ease pricing restrictions on services they sell to competitors on a market-to-market basis. The lack of procedural safeguards has left everyone except the entity seeking relief completely unaware of the extent of the relief granted to the Bells. Establishing formalized procedures guarantees transparency in the process by ensuring that all affected parties have a full and fair opportunity to voice concerns to the Commission.

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