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Covad, BellSouth Case Slogs Along

Covad's antitrust case against BellSouth is plodding forward.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has denied BellSouth's request to revisit a June ruling allowing Covad to pursue certain antitrust and tort claims.

"The court's decision confirms that Covad's antirust case can move forward, and we intend to vigorously pursue our claims," James Kirkland, Covad's senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

The decision is the latest in a four-year court battle scrutinized by upstart telecoms and Baby Bells.

The original lawsuit, which was dismissed in a district court, alleged that BellSouth blocked Covad from accessing collocation facilities it needed to offer DSL service in the Baby Bell's territory.

Then, a related U.S. Supreme Court case (Verizon versus Trinko) upheld the dismissal of an antitrust case that alleged a single breach of a Baby Bell's duty under the telecom act of 1996 to share its network.

Some industry watchers believed the Supreme Court's Trinko decision made antitrust suits that challenged monopoly abuses by incumbent phone companies impossible.

But the June appeals court ruling in Covad versus BellSouth, and now the refusal to revisit it, gave life to the suit. Covad is expected to work to bring the case back to district court.

For its part, BellSouth was pleased with earlier rulings that tossed out several claims in Covad's original action.

"We continue to maintain that the remaining claims -- those not dismissed by the court -- have no merit, and we intend to vigorously defend against them," BellSouth spokesman Joe Chandler told internetnews.com.

Meanwhile, Covad is expanding its Voice over IP services. Earlier this week, the company announced availability of business-class Covad VoIP in Houston, Las Vegas, Miami and Portland.

Covad said its VoIP service will be available in all 113 metro areas where it provides DSL service by year's end. It is using Cisco routers, switches and gateways for the rollout.



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