Efforts at retail deregulation--the albatross that impedes real competitive behavior in the wireline world--have been fitful, at best, because they must happen on a state by state basis. Massachusetts has been out front on business rate deregulation and Wyoming accomplished rate rebalancing back in the mid-90s. Florida had a good bill passed through the legislature that's implementation stalled in front of the PSC.
One reason for the lack of progress has been the steadfast opposition of new entrants to any retail deregulation of the incumbents. My suspicion has always been that it was because the new competitors enjoyed the price umbrella the incumbent gave them in business markets, where above-cost retail rates allowed them to earn supracompetitive profits. The market may be changing enough for competitors now that they are changing their view toward retail regulation.
In an encouraging move, Jeff Smith of the Rocky Mountain News reports this morning that MCI will support large parts of Qwest's retail deregulatory filing in Colorado:
Jim Lewis, MCI's senior vice president of policy and planning, said he agrees Qwest shouldn't have to notify regulators, and thus competitors, where it next plans to offer DSL high-speed Internet service. He also agreed that the proliferation of cellular phones has ushered in a new competitive era.
"I think the time has come to allow substantial deregulation at the retail level," Lewis said. "It strikes me that now is the time to clear out what I characterize as the regulatory underbrush. It probably ends up being counterproductive to consumers."
Hear, hear. [Or is it "here, here?" Nope, it's hear, hear.]
All this unregulatory talk sounds vaguely familiar...