WASHINGTON (CN) – The D.C. Circuit ordered the Federal Communications Commission to explain why it exempts phone companies from paying some connection fees, calling the agency’s six-year silence on the matter “egregious.”
“Having repeatedly, and mistakenly, put our faith in the Commission, we will not do so again,” Judge Garland wrote.
The court gave the FCC until Nov. 5 to provide “valid legal justification” for the rules, which exempt local phone companies from paying competitors to connect calls to dial-up Internet service. The agency considers those calls interstate traffic rather than local calls. Maryland-based Core Communications, which competes with AT&T and Verizon, challenged the rules and asked for an explanation.
The agency offered various rationales in 2000 and 2002, but the court rejected them as invalid and ordered the agency to come up with a better justification.
That was six years ago.
Garland threatened to vacate the rules unless the agency responds by deadline.
“If the FCC cannot, within six months, explain its legal authority for the interim rules, we can only presume that this is because there is in fact no such authority.”