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Telco Monopolies Back in Vogue

What's at stake is who can provide services to residences and businesses over the next few years. Seven years ago, the FCC tried to promote competition by forcing ILECs (incumbent local exchange carriers) to give CLECs (competitive LECs) access to their copper and fiber. This did indeed spur growth in the voice market. Data LECs also began popping up as they piggybacked on loops laid by the ILECs.

But with its latest ruling, the FCC has done several things to squelch competition. First, while ILECs must still provide CLECs with access to existing copper loops, the ILECs won't have to let CLECs use any new or upgraded loops. This means that if an ILEC pulls new fiber to a residential area or commercial building, the ILEC won't have to share it.

The FCC also gave states the right to decide what an ILEC will be required to unbundle and provide to CLECs, which could force a CLEC to negotiate with many jurisdictions and provide a fragmented set of separate services. States were also given jurisdiction over facilities-based competition, which could make CLECs pay for their own facilities.

While you're at it, FCC, why not just hand everything back to AT&T and call it a day?

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