(CN) – AT&T has withheld customer contract information from service resellers in violation of the Federal Telecommunications Act, the 6th Circuit ruled.
Under the Federal Telecommunications Act, which broke up regional telephone monopolies, those monopolies must offer their services at wholesale rates to smaller competitors so that they can offer a competitive price to customers who would otherwise have to accept the large service provider’s terms.
CMC Telecom, a competitor, sued AT&T and the Michigan Public Services Commission, claiming that the commission had violated the act by allowing AT&T to withhold information that would allow CMC to offer services competitive to those offered by AT&T.
AT&T had successfully argued before a District Court that it would need its customers’ consent in keeping with confidentiality duties for proprietary network information before it could comply with requests to disclose its ordered services, the quantity of such services and the location of a customer’s business.
The Cincinnati-based appeals court rejected that argument on March 8, finding that the claim was “without merit, because the act allows for disclosure ‘as required by law.'”
Writing for a three-judge panel, Judge John Rogers noted that AT&T could sidestep its concerns by providing redacted versions of its customer contracts.
Since a provision of the act requires the old regional telephone monopolies to offer all of their retail services for resale, competitors must know the kind and quantity of services being provided so that they can make an offer to resell services, the decision states.
In addition to the resale duty discussed in that section, which constitutes a legal disclosure requirement, AT&T is compelled to disclose the terms of its individualized contracts to competitors because another provision does not forbid it among a list of information that the old monopolies can conceal, Rogers wrote.