ISP Group Plans to Petition FCC

By Caron Carlson  |  Posted 2003-04-28
Frustrated with what it considers ongoing difficulty in working with incumbent telephone companies to deliver competing broadband service, a group of Internet Service Providers and user advocates plans to ask the Federal Communications Commission to examine alleged anti-competitive behavior.

The group, called the TeleTruth alliance, charges that incumbent telcos, namely the Bell Operating Companies, are using monopoly power to force independent ISPs out of business. The alliance plans to file a petition with the FCC later this week, said W. Scott McCollough, attorney with the Austin-based law firm of Stumpf, Craddock, Massey & Pulman, which represents TeleTruth.

Independent ISPs argue that their efforts are being stifled, leading to higher prices, poorer service and less innovation. In a draft of the petition it plans to file, the group accuses the large telcos of bad-mouthing independent ISPs to users and stealing new customers.

The group questions whether the laws and regulations designed to protect new entrants from anti-competitive behavior by incumbents are being enforced. The draft petition presents a list of now-infamous situations users have found themselves in when trying to subscribe to digital subscriber line service. Reported anecdotes range from users having to wait incessantly for installation to being told that they must cancel the rival carrier and return to the incumbent to repeated billing errors.

Service providers new to the industry are particularly worried about a recent FCC decision to remove the incumbents duty to share phone lines with rivals for DSL service. The group plans to warn that this ruling will likely cause "a second telecom crash" and worsen the recession dogging the telecom sector.

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