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BellSouth Wants Into Long-Distance Club

Telecommunications firm BellSouth today told federal regulators that the best way to speed up the Internet for consumers is to let regional Bell companies into the long-distance market.

In comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission, BellSouth said that the FCC should promptly approve Bell company applications to the enter long-distance market. Currently, the telco said it is required to hand off its customers' Internet calls whenever they happen to cross arbitrary long-distance boundaries.

BellSouth's comments come in response to the FCC's August 6 Notice of Proposed Rule-Making on ways to encourage the development of advanced telecommunications services, such as high-speed data links to the Internet, as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Under the FCC's proposal, incumbent local telephone companies would be able to offer advanced services, such as ADSL, on an unregulated basis, but only if they chose to market such services through a costly separate affiliate. Otherwise, they would be required to unbundle and resell high-speed connections at cut rates to their competitors, the FCC said. The FCC also has proposed giving BellSouth's competitors more access to its central offices.

BellSouth also made recommendations to the FCC to help speed up the so-called "World Wide Wait." They include:

  • Adopt policies that conform to the realities of a competitive telecommunications market. Cable modems, home satellite dishes and terrestrial wireless facilities can already deliver broadband services to consumers without the existing local telephone network.

  • Adopt resale rules on advanced services that preserve BellSouth's incentive to invest in faster Internet connections;

  • Since local phone companies have no real dominance in the provision of advanced Internet services, the FCC should forebear from regulating their prices as if they had substantial market power.



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