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AT&T, MCI Take Access-Fee Case To Supreme Court

AT&T and MCI--stung by the Bush Administration's decision to abandon a course that would keep telephone-access fees at discounted rates for long-distance service providers--have taken the issue to the Supreme Court.

In addition, some state regulatory agencies and smaller telecommunications companies joined in filing with the highest court.

When the FCC and the Solicitor General announced that they would not join in an appeal to the Supreme Court earlier this week, the long-distance companies' chance of keeping the discounted rates received a crippling blow. The FCC reversed its earlier stance on the issue.

In the wake of the Wednesday's decision by the Administration, MCI suggested that it may be forced to abandon its local service. MCI stated: "If the FCC's rules are allowed to lapse and wholesale rates rise, MCI may be forced to raise prices in some markets and pull out of others."

The Wall Street Journal reported that MCI has begun drawing up plans to withdraw from the consumer business. MCI recently emerged from bankruptcy and changed its corporate name back to MCI, leaving its previous corporate name-Worldcom--behind. The firm is in a relatively strong financial position, having erased most of its debt in bankruptcy proceedings. Its consumer business represents almost 20 percent of its $21 billion in annual revenue.

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