The Federal Communication Commission reported that CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers) increased their connections to incumbent lines -- mostly Baby Bells -- by 7 percent in the first six months of 2004.
The growth brings the total of CLEC lines to 32 million connections, but representatives of the local exchanges say the number will decline rapidly due to recent FCC and court rulings that pave the way for the Baby Bells to raise the rates they charge CLECs to connect to their networks.
"Next time this report comes out," Jason Oxman of the Association for Local Telecommunications Services (ALTS) told the Wall Street Journal, "these numbers are going to go in the opposite direction." Oxman is general counsel of the ALTS, which represents CLECs.
In spite of the 7 percent increase in CLEC connections, the trend for CLEC sign-ups has been slowing. The FCC said CLEC end-user switched access lines increased by 10 percent in the last six months of 2003. The FCC noted there were 148 million total telephony lines in the first six months of 2004.
Of the total number of CLECs, the FCC said 20.8 million served residential and small business users while 11.2 million served governmental, institutional and medium and large business customers.