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Article on FCC Ruling
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FCC rules ISP calls are interstate in
By NANCY WEIL
IDG News Service, 02/25/99
In a long-anticipated vote, the U.S. Federal
Communications Commission today decided that
dial-up Internet calls are interstate in nature and
The ruling overturns state decisions holding that
dial-up calls to the Internet are local. The decision
also could mean that local phone companies would be
able to assess usage-sensitive access charges on
Internet service providers, the FCC suggested in a
statement today regarding its vote. Without the
so-called "ESP Exemption," consumers might have to
pay per-minute fees for dialing into the Internet on
local lines, though not all Internet-access calls
necessarily will be charged at long-distance rates.
The matter has been under discussion for months by
the FCC, which ruled in October that high-speed
Internet access provided by GTE is interstate in
nature because a certain percentage of Internet
originates in one state and winds up in another.
In a statement regarding the ruling, the FCC said that
Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth did not
participate in the vote out of protest over what he
contends was the denial of his process rights.
The five FCC commissioners have, "for at least 25
years" been allowed to put off by one month any
action set for consideration at a commission meeting.
According to the statement, FCC Chairman William
Kennard denied Furchtgott-Roth's request to push
back the decision for three weeks.
Furchtgott-Roth questioned whether it is in the public
interest to risk Internet access charges, according to
the statement. It added the decision had been delayed
since last month at the behest of Kennard.