Carriers turn to FCC with competition complaints

ITworld.com |  Government

U.S. long-distance carriers are resisting the attempts of regional telecommunication companies to move into their market, saying that the newcomers still haven't opened up their local call markets to competition as required by the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Qwest Communications International Inc. of Denver, Colorado, and Verizon Communications Inc. of New York have both applied to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to provide long-distance services, but have seen existing long-distance players file complaints about their plans or promotional methods.

Qwest filed an application on Thursday seeking authority to provide services to the long-distance markets in Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota, states where it provides local call services. However, WorldCom Inc., of Clinton, Mississippi, issued a statement on Thursday calling for the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC to look into the matter. Qwest, it said, has not sufficiently opened its local phone markets to competitors, and should therefore not be allowed to offer long-distance services.

Qwest said in a statement Thursday that it has spent US$3 billion on opening local markets to competition and meets all requirements of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Qwest provides local services in another nine states and plans to apply to offer long-distance services in all of those by the end of the year, it said.

Qwest was not immediately available to comment on WorldCom's complaint, but will hold a conference call later Friday.

Verizon applied to the FCC in December 2001 for permission to offer long-distance services in New Jersey. It withdrew the application in March, after indications that the FCC was not happy with the prices it was charging competitors in the local market. However, it resubmitted the application later that month.

According to a report in the online edition of The Wall Street Journal on Friday, AT&T Corp. has asked federal investigators to suspend or reject the application, saying that Verizon has run two advertising campaigns for the service before it was approved.

Verizon said the direct-mail letters and bill inserts had been sent out by mistake, the report said.

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