WASHINGTON-The Department of Justice last week said BellSouth Corp. has not yet opened up its markets sufficiently enough to offer long-distance service in Louisiana.
The regional Bell operating company applied last month to offer long distance in Louisiana based on, among other things, the strength of the personal communications services market in Louisiana. BellSouth based its application on evidence that a majority of PCS customers in Louisiana said they use their PCS phone to make or receive calls at home.
The Baby Bells, including BellSouth, are prohibited from offering long distance until they meet the local competition checklist contained in Section 271 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Compliance with this checklist is determined by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is slated to make a final decision on BellSouth’s Section 271 application Oct. 13.
The application is BellSouth’s second try to offer long distance in Louisiana. The FCC turned down its original attempt in February. The RBOC made a similar argument in its first filing. The FCC disagreed, saying PCS was not yet a competitor to wireline service. BellSouth attempted in its latest filing to change the FCC’s mind. Included in the filing was a survey concluding that 65 percent of Louisiana PCS customers make or receive calls at home.
The PCS argument was decried by would-be competitors in Louisiana, which said PCS equipment and service were not on equal par with wireline because PCS equipment and service are more expensive.