Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications

Small earthquake in Pennsylvania (24 March 2001)

Many people believe that the problems of local loop unbundling, with former monopolies such as BT and Deutsche Telekom not budging unless forced to, are unique to Europe. They are not; many American states are refereeing battles between ILECs (incumbent local exchange carriers, equivalent to BT for local calls) and CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers, with no real United Kingdom equivalent) which have dragged on since the last fundamental structural reform of the US telecommunications system in 1996.

Events in Pennsylvania, where Verizon is the ILEC and AT&T one of the CLECs - a battle of behemoths - have finally come to a head and something has been done, with Verizon being ordered to restructure by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

The original intention was to break up Verizon into separate wholesale and retail companies; the eventual compromise was to mandate and regulate separate wholesale and retail divisions within Verizon. Although Verizon is suggesting victory, the ruling states that, if it does not comply, a full breakup is back on the agenda.

Saying 'we told you so' is not very constructive, but such a division is exactly what we have suggested to OFTEL and BT in previous submissions on local loop unbundling. We will pursue our policy in any forthcoming discussions on the future of BT.

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© CUT 2001. Last updated 24 March 2001.