By Ben Charny
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
U.S. regulators are expected to up-end state public utility rules that
force BellSouth to let customers buy its high-speed Internet service
without having to also sign up for its local phone offering.
As early as Monday, said a source familiar with the situation, the
Federal Communications Commission could suspend public utility
commission regulations in California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and
Louisiana that forced BellSouth to sell DSL, or digital subscriber
line, service separate from its local phone service. In the past, the
two services had been inextricably linked.
Such a decision would send a strong message to other state utility
commissions that might be considering similar rules, the source said.
The expected FCC decision would have a profound effect on the few
thousand people in the four states who now get "naked" DSL from
BellSouth. It would also affect the millions of homeowners who would
go with a separate DSL offering given the chance, insiders
believe. The possible precedent for the Bells -- BellSouth and the
nation's three other top phone and DSL providers -- could even affect
cable operators that sell broadband and telephony on fiber-optic
networks, services that are much faster than the Bells' DSL.
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