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July 27, 1988

IBM, OTHER US TELECOM SERVICE PROVIDERS LOBBY FCC OVER BELL OPEN NET LETHARGY

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM, CompuServe Inc and the US Commerce Department have each filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission that the regional Bell operating companies’ current plans to unbundle their network-building blocks to establish a national net barely touch on future network design. The parties are demanding that the Bells work together to a consistent plan in order to achieve the goal of Open Network Architecture as laid down by the FCC last year, and want the Commission to order the Bells back to the drawing board, the Wall Street Journal reports. Open Network Architecture refers to a strategy of establishing standards so that information service companies can tap into the telephone network and deliver their offerings. A tussle between the information providers and the Bells, who are keen to hang onto their monopolistic control of the network has erupted into an open squabble which the Federal Communications Commission wants to resolve before the next president takes office. Last year the FCC ordered the Bells and AT&T to put their plans for opening up the networks on the table in an attempt to put the carriers on an even footing with independent parties when it comes to selling building block services such as call-forwarding and call waiting features. The Bells propose to continue selling features in bundles, which conflicts with the information-service companies’ demand that they be permitted to buy only the items they need. The two sides are also at loggerheads over the issue of pricing. Service suppliers demand that tariffs be based on actual cost while the Bells favour raising the price right to the limit of whatever the market will bear.

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