To accommodate requirements imposed by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has issued a set of procedural requirements governing requests for interconnection services. According to the NCUC, the federal timeline for compulsory arbitration of differences arising during the course of interconnection negotiations could leave as little as 85 days to render a decision in each case. To prevent such time constraints from interfering with evidentiary hearings that might be required to properly resolve interconnection disputes, the NCUC has required parties that request negotiations to notify the NCUC within five days of making a request. Parties are also encouraged to petition for arbitration prior to the end of the 160-day period set out under the Act. Carriers are given 25 days to respond to arbitration requests by submitting any relevant evidence, including cost studies. Re Local Exchange and Local Exchange Access Telecommunications Competition, Docket No. P-100, Sub 133, Apr. 15, 1996 (N.C.U.C.).
Citing the same strict timeline for resolution of interconnection disputes and also noting that failure to meet the deadlines could result in preemption of state jurisdiction by the Federal Communications Commission, the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) has opened a special docket for official notification by incumbent local exchange carriers of any request for interconnection. The PSC said that several competing carriers,