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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References in periodicals archive ?
." Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Telecommunications Act), 47 U.S.C.
And while many of our largest challenges stem from the Telecommunications Act of 1996, we also have many responsibilities that stem from our ongoing authority under the Communications Act of 1934.
That notion was quickly dispelled with AT&T's divestiture, and now with the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (1) provided two important, and very different, mechanisms for increasing competition in wireline telecommunications markets.
Excluding the many entries on specific individuals and organizations, examples of topics addressed include the alternative press, archiving and presentation, baseball journalism, cameras in the courtroom, legal issues of copyright, the Espionage Act of 1917, First Amendment cases, humor, the Korean War, literary journalism, maps and the news, the op-ed page, student journalism, religion and the press, and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Each entry is accompanied by a brief guide to further reading and an analytical index is included at the rear of the volume.
Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, state regulatory commissions were given primary responsibility for determining whether a telecommunications carrier is eligible to participate in and receive support from the federal Universal Service Fund's High-Cost Program.
The program was part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and in implementing the law, the FCC modified and expanded the high-cost program that provides funding to some telecommunications carriers, which helps lower telephone rates in rural areas.
In 1996, competition in the voice-service market was the focus of the FCC and Congress, with the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Today, the convergence of voice, video, broadband, and mobile service fuels the policies being considered by the FCC and Congress.
The court held that cable providers offer "information services," which are not subject to traditional telecommunications regulations under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Portland led a legal battle against Qwest over whether the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 prevents cities from charging fees based on revenue.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is very broad, and addresses emerging national issues such as universal service guarantees to all individuals; deregulation of local telephone and cable television service to promote competition; reforms to regulations that inhibit access to the "information super-highway" and greater access to advanced technologies such as satellite communications.

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