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N.C. Sets Rules for Local Telco Competition

Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 1996

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has adopted a "minimal" regulatory structure for newly certified, competitive local-exchange telephone carriers (LECs), and has revised existing interim rules governing certification, interconnection, number portability, and universal service in the newly opened markets.

Settling "one of the most contentious issues" in the local competition debate, the NCUC agreed that resale of local service should be permitted, but found it could not yet determine the exact nature and extent of the resale opportunities it would require. It directed the parties to include resale issues as part of interconnection negotiations required under the new rules. It reserved questions on universal service for a separate proceeding.

The NCUC found rate regulation unnecessary for the new LEC services, which it deemed "essentially competitive in nature." Rates charged by regulated LECs will serve as a practical cap on market prices, it added, unless a new carrier can offer superior service justifying a higher price. New market entrants are exempted from filing requirements for tariffs, affiliated contracts, depreciation schedules, and other matters associated with traditional regulation. To protect the public during the transition, the new companies must file a price list for basic local exchange services. Re Local Exch. and Local Exch. Access Competition, Docket No. P-100, Sub 133, Feb. 23, 1996 (N.C.U.C.).

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