COMPTEL v. Federal Communications Commission, No. 19-1164 (D.C. Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
After the FCC determined that incumbents no longer dominated the telecommunications market because of the plethora of competitor modes of voice transmission, the FCC exercised its statutory authority to forbear from enforcing the wholesale pricing requirement and one element of the unbundling requirement.
The DC Circuit denied petitions for review challenging the propriety of the FCC's forbearance of the wholesale price requirements and challenging the forbearance of the unbundling requirement. The court concluded that the Commission looked reasonably at the whole national market for voice transmission and how the incumbents' share of that market is declining rapidly; the Commission was reasonable to focus on the national market when making national policy; and, while the Commission's order did not explicitly address the availability of broadband in rural areas, it clearly stated that it only granted forbearance as to "price cap" incumbents. The court noted that the Commission justified its forbearance policy by stating that it would induce incumbents and insurgents to develop more advanced networks. In regard to the forbearance of the unbundling requirement, the Commission's reasoning largely coincides with its justification for forbearing from enforcing the wholesale requirement. Given that CPUC effectively conceded that greater consideration of public safety would not change the outcome, the court did not think that a remand on this issue was necessary. Finally, the court rejected the remaining administrative law challenges.