RealTime IT News

Covad Wraps Up Line Sharing Deals

Covad Communications Inc. Wednesday announced that it has signed or arbitrated interim line sharing agreements with every major exchange carrier from California to New York.

In compliance with the Federal Communication Commissions November 1999 Line Sharing Order, Covad won a Texas Public Utilities Commission arbitration decision again SBC Communications Inc. subsidiary Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. to implement line sharing in parts of Texas.

The decision was announced late Tuesday, on the date by which the FCC ordered local providers to make line sharing available to Covad and other competitive local exchange carriers.

Under the decision of the Texas Commission arbitrators, Southwestern Bell may only charge Covad an interim recurring loop rate of $0.00 until long-term pricing can be negotiated.

The Texas decision is the first in the nation to agree with Covad and other CLECs that the recurring cost of sharing a line is nothing, because the system is already in place to provide plain old telephone service and does not cost the telecom anything to share the local loop.

GTE Corp. had already agreed with Covad that the recurring loop rate should be zero dollars.

The loop rate may cost Covad nothing due to the interim agreements, but pricing for other unbundled network elements are part of the line sharing negotiations. The UNEs are billed to CLECs as a monthly service fee for maintenance and other services after a one-time set up fee is negotiated.

The Texas Commission also ordered both companies to provision line-shared loops within three days, a two-day improvement over existing intervals in Texas. If the loops require special conditioning to eliminate interference with data transmission, the provisioning time can expand to 10 days.

Dhruv Khanna, Covad executive vice president and general counsel, said it worked hard to press the case for consumers and businesses, and we have won significant results in Texas.

"The Texas arbitrator's endorsement that the zero-cost loop rate is consistent with the pro-competitive purpose of the Telecommunications Act sends an important message to all phone companies still seeking to extract higher long-term costs," Khanna said. "We were pleased that the arbitrators agreed with us that shared lines can be provisioned faster than the phone companies claimed. That decision ultimately means that Texas consumers will get their Covad DSL more quickly after they order our services."

Covad already has an interim line sharing agreement with SBC for California, and is completing negotiations for similar agreements in Texas and the remainder of SBC's territory. Covad also has interim line sharing agreements with GTE in all of its major markets except Texas, where the Commission's decision will form the basis of its interim agreement.

In related news, Covad Wednesday fired up DSL services to Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C., as well as in Memphis and Nashville, TN.

Covad's extension of DSL services to the area is the result of implementing the FCC's line sharing order with Bell South Corp.

Tom Wagner, Covad president and general manager, said all systems were go to begin converting dial-up subscribers to its high-speed DSL services in the area.

"Our aggressive expansion into the Bell South region enables users in these growing, tech-savvy areas to unleash the full power of the Internet," Wagner said. "With the high level of Internet users already in place in these four cities, we feel strongly that there