Qwest Claims State Can’t Set Rates

     MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – Qwest claims the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission exceeded its power by declaring that Qwest’s wholesale rates for intrastate services “are not just and reasonable.” Qwest claims that under the Telecommunications Act of 1966, only the FCC has the power to set rates and terms for “Section 271 elements,” which include access to long-distance networks.

     Qwest claims that Congress and “No fewer than 12 federal courts have held that the FCC’s authority to administer Section 271 is exclusive and that state commissions have no authority to regulate or set prices for the network elements and other services that RBOCs [Regional Bell Operating Companies] provide under that section.”
     Qwest claims that despite that, “the MPUC initiated a proceeding in 2006 that requited ‘Qwest to show cause why the Commission should not open a contested case proceeding to investigate whether the company’s wholesale rates for intrastate services offered under 47 U.S.C. § 271 are just and reasonable.'”
     Qwest opposed that on the same grounds it claims now. But on April 23 this year, the MPUC issued a final order stating that “Qwest’s prices for Section 271 elements and other non-251 services are not just and reasonable,” and ordering Qwest to submit a price list to the state for approval. (Section 251 covers relationships between incumbent local exchange carriers, “like Qwest,” and competitive local exchange carriers, including access to networks.)
     Qwest wants the state’s rulings declared arbitrary and capricious, contrary to federal law, and enjoined. It is represented in Federal Court by its staff attorney Jason Topp.

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