The U.S. Federal Communications Commission Thursday modified rules requiring incumbent local exchange carriers to lease portions of the local network to rivals at regulated rates.
In a major disappointment to the local carriers, the commission largely left in tact requirements regarding the provision of voice services.
However, it did make several changes regarding broadband services, which two of the commissioners did not support.
The commission also ruled that incumbent carriers will no longer have to provide switching to rivals for business customers using high-capacity loops, but gave state regulators 90 days to rebut the ruling.
The industry was swift in responding to the decision. AT&T cautiously praised the FCC for generally maintaining the local carriers switching duties, and said that it remains committed to providing business customers a full portfolio of services, including local service.
With regard to the broadband decision, AT&T said it will have limited impact immediately.
BellSouth Corp. harshly criticized the ruling, particularly with regard to the switching leasing obligations. "As a result of this decision, the United States puts at risk its global telecommunications leadership," the company said in a written statement.