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FCC urged to lift high-speed rules

US West asks the Federal Communications Commission to lift restrictions that the firm says hampers its ability to offer high-speed Net access.

US West today asked the Federal Communications Commission to lift restrictions that the company says hampers its ability to provide high-speed Net access.

As reported earlier, US West is offering Net access over copper wires, dubbed digital subscriber lines, to more than 40 cities throughout its 14-state territory by June. Ameritech also has launched DSL service, and Bell Atlantic, Bell South, and SBC Communications plan similar rollouts this year.

But according to US West, federal regulations restrict the company and other Baby Bells from launching high-speed data services between states and across certain boundaries, known as LATA, within their regions.

"Regulatory roadblocks are hindering US West's efforts to carry our Congress's promise" to loosen decades-old restrictions on the telcos, said Mark Roellig, an executive vice president of the company.

Other Baby Bells also have petitioned the FCC to loosen regulations, but US West has more at stake because its geographic territory is larger and crosses more regulatory jurisdictions. The FCC said it will review the case.

The telcos are seeking the government's help at a time when it faces increasing competition from cable television companies and ISPs to provide high-speed Net access. The phone carriers are mounting their intense lobbying effort as the administration is embracing the benefits of technology to the economy and is proposing less regulation, not more. (See related story)