May 19, 1999
We are in the middle of a turbulent period as we transition from monopoly to competition. Many rules that were put into place during a monopoly regime may no longer be necessary to effectuate their intended purpose.
The forbearance petition filed by the Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance (ITTA) affords us an opportunity to review particular rules to determine whether they are necessary to serve the public interest. The petition requests regulatory relief for mid-sized local exchange carriers that serve less than two percent of the nation's access lines.
Under a section 10 forbearance analysis, the Commission must forbear from applying any rule or regulation if the Commission determines that (1) enforcement is not necessary to ensure that charges and practices are just and reasonable, (2) enforcement is not necessary for the protection of consumers, and (3) forbearance is consistent with the public interest.
In a series of orders adopted today, we grant the forbearance requested in some instances; we go beyond what was requested in some instances by providing relief to a broader class of carriers; and in a few limited instances we conclude that continued enforcement is necessary for the protection of consumers.
One request that the majority does not grant is forbearance from the Commission's requirement that incumbent local exchange carriers offer certain services through separate affiliates. While our separate affiliate rules have served a very important purpose in the past, separation becomes less necessary as competition evolves. Based on the record in this proceeding, however, we are not convinced that competition has developed to the point where consumers will be adequately protected if we forbear from our rules. We look forward to working with the parties to develop a better record and to determine whether structural separation promotes competition or detracts from the competitive market place.