TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: A Regulatory Maze Ahead for a Recast F.C.C.

A Regulatory Maze Ahead for a Recast F.C.C.

Monty Solomon (
Wed, 16 Feb 2005 23:15:54 -0500

February 15, 2005

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 - The deals have been forged on Wall Street, but
their final shape may depend on Washington.

Most people expect the huge telecommunications mergers recently
announced to be approved in the current political climate, but the
deals could prompt a considerable fine-tuning of existing rules.

The consolidations, a natural outgrowth of the deregulatory agenda of
the Federal Communications Commission under Michael K. Powell, will
present the next chairman with a crucial opportunity to rewrite the
rules governing the industry.

The conditions set -- or brushed aside -- by regulators in deciding
whether to approve each of the three big deals announced in the last
few weeks will be among the most significant policy decisions for the
industry since Congress rewrote telecommunications rules nine years

Verizon Communications' announcement that it will buy MCI follows the
proposed acquisition of AT&T by SBC Communications and Sprint's
purchase of Nextel.

If the regulators respond by attaching important conditions to
approval of the mergers, they may relieve significant pressure on
Congress to conduct a quick overhaul of the Telecommunications Act of
1996. One thing is certain: the proposed deals will remove AT&T and
MCI, the two major adversaries of the regional Bell companies, from
political lobbying.

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