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Intrastate, InterLATA Dereg Gaining.

A recent wave of deregulation of intrastate interLATA long-distance services is being met with mixed reaction from telecommunications providers and users.

Legislation in several states is allowing the deregulation of such rates when the services are available elsewhere. There are many common elements of policy from state to state.

In Illinois, carriers will be able to designate themselves "competitive" starting August 1, 1987 or can petition the Illinois Commerce Commission in the interim for special tariff consideration. Competitive is defined as a service offered that is reasonably available from another source. The Illinois PUC would retain rulemaking power to make exception of cellular, point-to-point data transfer and some private-line services from the guidelines. Such carriers would be able to establish competitive entry into traditional local exchange service in 1989.

A Washington State statute is similar. It allows for deregulation of competitive companies or services immediately, upon approval of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.

As with many states, Illinois is retaining the right investigate any company or service to determine competitiveness. Universal service provisions and reporting requirements have also been written into the legislation.

For example, Wisconsin is currently studying such legislation, Ohio has enacted a range of rates to "foster competition" and Indiana has "deregulated competitive aspects of service if regulation hinders competition."

Some states are giving their PUCs the power to decide. They include Arizona, Colorado, and Montana. Other states, including Utah and Idaho are studying the matter while New Mexico law says the PUC cannot deny certificates of competitive operation if the service is competitive. Some of these states are single-LATA areas.

A Mountain Bell spokesman said his company has been active in raising the issue before state regulatory agencies. He said the company is maintaining that if the long-distance service is competitive, it should be freed from regulation or at least be in a position of equal regulation.

Spokesman Tom Gibson of the Competitive Telecommunications Association said it is premature to deregulate until the dominant carrier is no longer dominant.

"they (dominant carriers) hold bottleneck facilities. It's therefore difficult for competitors to establish service if the bigs are deregulated," Gibson said.

He said state PUCs feel they are acting in the compelling public interest but actually aren't. He agreed that more of the legislation has occurred in the west because of BOC efforts in those areas.

"They keep saying there is a 'level playing field' when actually there isn't", Gibson said.

Illinois Commerce Commission spokesman David Rudd said an important factor is that competitive services are removed from regulated rate bases.
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Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1985
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