FCC Denies SBC Forbearance Petition – IP Enabled Services
Last week the FCC denied, on procedural grounds, SBC’s request that the Commission forbear from applying Title II common carrier obligations to SBC’s so-called “IP Platform Services.” SBC did not specifically define or describe the services at issue, and the broader implications of the forbearance petition are already under consideration in the pending rulemaking proceeding concerning the regulatory classification and treatment of IP-enabled services generally. See update, Feb. 12, 2004. Also included in that rulemaking is SBC’s alternative petition for a declaratory ruling that its “IP Platform Services” are not subject to Title II regulation at all.
SBC had declined suggestions to withdraw the petition and allow the FCC to make its Title II and Internet decisions in the IP-enabled services rulemaking. The Commission had to take action by last Thursday or the petition would have been deemed granted by operation of law. The ruling on SBC’s petition therefore allows the Commission to defer the tougher issues to the rulemaking. Importantly, SBC only sought relief from regulatory obligations that would apply to its IP Platform Service under Title II. SBC did not request relief from Title VI, so nothing in the FCC’s order should allow SBC or any other ILEC to claim exemption from or avoid any Title VI obligation that would otherwise apply to their provision of IP-enabled video services.
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