California regulators fined Pacific Bell $20 million yesterday for misleading consumers about its add-on phone services like caller ID. The company will also have to spend an additional $24 million on a consumer education campaign, regulators said. The fine stems in part from the company's "recidivist" behavior--an administrative law judge noted that the company was fined $16.5 million for similar practices in 1986. The company said it would appeal the decision.
A coalition of long distance companies and ISPs has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to reject a request by Baby Bell companies, GTE, and several major computer companies to take a hands-off approach toward the Baby Bells' broadband DSL services. The proposal would violate federal law by allowing the Baby Bells to avoid selling their DSL service at wholesale rates to competitors, the coalition said.
An administrative law judge in California has recommended that state regulators deny Pacific Bell's application to enter the long distance market. The judge's recommendation, which the state Public Utilities Commission will rule on by Dec. 17, follows an earlier PUC staff recommendation to block the telco's move into long distance. The company has not yet opened its local markets to rivals, the judge said.