Telecommunications Act of 1996

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Telecommunications Act of 1996

Telecommunications legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996. Although it covers many aspects of the field, the most controversial has been the deregulation of local phone service, allowing competition in this arena for the first time. Long-distance carriers (IXCs) and cable TV companies can get into the local phone business, while local telcos (the LECs) can get into long distance. Some of the major provisions follow.

Section 251 - Allows states to regulate prices in the local access market.

Section 254 - Extends universal service to everyone no matter how rural, even if others have to subsidize the expense. See traffic pumping.

Section 271 - Provides a 14-point checklist of requirements for RBOCs to offer intrastate long-distance service.

It Wasn't a Picnic

The RBOCs thought the Act would be a road map for getting into long distance in exchange for ending their local monopolies. What they got were 700 pages of dubious rules that made "deregulating" as complicated as any regulated industry could be. The RBOCs claimed that the Act discriminated against them and that other large telephone companies received more favorable treatment. Complaints and lawsuits ensued.

The Act required that the RBOCs offer competitors access to their local networks at reasonable rates, but both the Supreme Court (1999) and appeals court (2002) said that the FCC should not be deciding how the RBOCs should foster their own competition by unbundling their network services. In 2003, the FCC decided not to force the RBOCs into leasing high-speed lines to competitors. In March 2004, the appeals court upheld that ruling and also overturned a ruling that required the RBOCs to give wireless companies access to their networks. The 2004 rulings were applauded by the RBOCs.
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During the Clinton administration, along with the help of a Republican-dominated Congress, the visionary 1996 Telecommunications Act declared it "the policy of the United States" that internet service providers and websites be "unfettered by Federal or State regulation.
The passage of the Minority Tax Certificate in 1978 led to an increase of African American ownership; however, when Congress repealed it in 1995 and replaced it with the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the number of minority-owned broadcast facilities decreased by 40%.
The person looking up an acronym was looking up a fact, but the person skimming the Wikipedia article on the 1996 Telecommunications Act was ingesting knowledge, not just facts; she very likely wanted to understand what the Act was about, not get a list of dates and bullet points.
1996 Telecommunications Act prompts media consolidation.
After years of focusing policy discussions on the pending reauthorization of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the Information Technology and Communications (ITC) Steering Committee recently reviewed three timely, close-to-home technology issues that have an impact on municipalities.
Under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, cable rates are unregulated, except for the bare-bones basic package.
Crandall (economic studies, Brookings Institution) describes developments in the US telecommunications sector since the passage of the 1996 telecommunications act.
As the article explains, while the makeup of Congress changed little with the elections, 2005 promises to be a year to watch, as many in the industry, and on Capitol Hill, are gearing up for a rewrite of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
She focused on the impending rewrite of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
The decision came in a series of cases involving the Missouri Municipal League, which argued that the 1996 Telecommunications Act says states may not prohibit any entity from offering local phone service.
The 1996 Telecommunications Act requires incumbent local phone companies (ILECs) to wholesale their networks to entrants (CLECs) at regulated rates.
We welcome competition, but we lose more than $15 per line under rates determined when the 1996 Telecommunications Act was put in place," said Carrie Hightman, president, SBC Illinois.