ASPEN, Colo. -- According to Verizon vice chairman and president Lawrence Babbio, the nation's biggest phone companies are tired of waiting for the FCC to implement clear line-sharing rules, so they're taking the commission to court -- again.
"Time's up," said Babbio, during his keynote speech Tuesday at the Progress and Freedom Foundation's Aspen Summit conference, explaining why Verizon and Qwest filed suit Monday in a federal appeals court to force the FCC to come up with definitive rules on the line-sharing, or "unbundling" situation, rather than delay the decision for another six months, as the FCC declared it would do last week.
The lawsuit is just the latest chapter in the unbundling saga, which began when the 1996 Telecom Act included provisions forcing incumbent local service providers like Verizon to open up their local loops to competitors, at rates determined by regulators. Since the Act's inception, the unbundling argument has continued apace; earlier this year the FCC's latest attempt to implement the rules was shot down by the courts, prompting the commission to issue a ruling last week that attempted to buy more time to figure out a workable implementation.
For the FCC to come out with a rule that protects the status quo and doesn't clearly stipulate what might happen in the future was unacceptable for companies like Verizon, said Babbio. Such a rule, he said, would put the companies in the position of risking investments in physical infrastructure without any guarantees on being able to control the returns on those investments.
"The real reason [for the latest lawsuit] is that the FCC hasn't done their job for the last eight years," Babbio said. "After eight years, they still haven't gotten it right. And we'll haul them back to court every time."