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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.