The Federal Communications Commission's latest attempt to overhaul rules governing competition for telephone and internet services was supposed to herald a new era of clarity in the turbulent telecommunications industry. Instead, analysts say, the FCC's Feb. 20 decisions reveal discord within the agency itself and spell even more uncertainty for schools and other consumers.

The nation's four regional Bell companies—BellSouth Corp., SBC Comm-unications, Verizon Communications, and Qwest Communications—complained that the FCC failed to drop outdated rules that let competitors use local Bell networks at discounted prices. Consumer groups praised the decision because it preserves the...

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