[ Text Version]

September 17, 1997

Press Statement of Commissioner Susan Ness
Regarding State Challenge to FCC's Ameritech Michigan Order

This is an unnecessary dispute and a frivolous lawsuit. There is broad agreement between the FCC and a majority of states that competition in the local market cannot take root without efficient pricing of unbundled network elements. So in that respect most states have no substantive difference with the pricing section of our Ameritech Michigan order.

But the statute is quite clear on two points: First, decisions on Bell company entry into long distance are to be made by the FCC, not the states. 47 U.S.C. Section 271(d)(3). This requires that the FCC make an independent determination whether the Bell company in a particular state has complied with every element of the competitive checklist. See 47 U.S.C. Section 271(d)(2)(B) & (d)(3)(A). Second, parties who feel aggrieved by FCC decisions on these matters must take their appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. 47 U.S.C. Section 402(b)(6). The states' effort to shop for what they believe to be a more hospitable forum is simply not permitted by the law.

It is regrettable that some states are expending resources on backward-looking, competition-inhibiting litigation that should instead be invested in forward-looking, competition-promoting cooperation.