The Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) posted this fact sheet yesterday to explain an interim wholesale ruling from March. By way of background, the order has been stayed pending appeals. The state also has the lowest UNE-L rate and third lowest UNE-P rate in the nation.
Typically, the media and message battles are pretty heated in an effort to shape the debate over wholesale regulation. One side says that A is good and B is bad. The other side says the reverse. After enough newspaper, television and radio advertisements, a handful of politicians or community leaders voice support for one position or the other. This is very familiar terrain for anyone who watches telecom policy.
However, it is unique to see the regulators wade into the middle of these industry foodfights. That is what makes the PUCO publication so interesting. Not only does it say "Competition Ohio has been misleading Ohio's telephone consumers" but it goes on to emphasize, "Competition Ohio is not a consumer advocacy group." (Emphasis in original.) PUCO essentially calls out AT&T for funding a lobbying effort guised as a consumer protection group.
An earlier blog post on the Ohio ruling provides more detail on the situation. Adam's analysis of the warring factions hit the nail on the head: "So long as a certain segment anticipates a non-trivial chance to get something for nothing from regulators, they will try to do so." For the regulatory combatants in Ohio, it must have been a surprise to see a new cost imposed on their efforts to game public opinion. That's one cost imposed by regulators that I wouldn't mind seeing more often.