Tuesday, March 2, 2004 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Out on a Limb

In the rough and tumble world of blogging, if you don't go on the record early, there is little room for self-congratulatory posts later. Therefore, my predictions:

A new energy will infuse state commissioners who were never comfortable with the TRO unbundling requirements. Today's decision will give these commissioners the cover to forestall, or more likely, forego, previously scheduled proceedings. They will abandon those who seek cert from the Supreme Court and they will walk away - hands clean - of their friends who petitioned the court on behalf of states. Furthermore, at next week's NARUC meeting, which features Commissioner Martin keynoting before the telecom committee on Monday morning, the hallway discussions will be a bit more raucous than normal.

My evidence for these predictions? Very little. It is a hunch based on conversations with commissioners from around the country in the last year. Most won't go as far as Florida Commissioners Charles Davidson and Rudy Bradley, Tom Welch from Maine or Greg Sopkin from Colorado who issued the following joint statement this afternoon.

We applaud the D.C. Circuit for restoring order to the Triennial Review process. An economically rational resolution of the issues addressed in Triennial Review is vital to ensuring sustainable, economic competition in the telecommunications industry. Whereas regulatory certainty is critical for investment to return to the telecom industry, the TRO inherently created more uncertainty. It created the possibility that the same set of facts can lead to materially different regulatory outcomes based on state venue. As noted by the D.C. Circuit, "regrettably, much of the [FCC's] resulting work is unlawful."

But many will quietly walk away from costly, cumbersome proceedings that they never really wanted to do in the first place. Resurrecting the unbundling rules in 60 days would be difficult work in any situation. But it is impossible without support from a cohesive supporting cast among state commissions. The solidarity of opinion among state officials is a thing of the past, just like the unbundling rules.

posted by @ 11:07 PM | General