Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals cast doubt on ITC’s contention that it is not obligated to provide interconnection to Sprint because Sprint provides service to cable companies on terms that are kept confidential. The dispute centers upon Sprint’s request for interconnection with ITC, an incumbent fixed line phone provider in Iowa. In turn, Sprint Communications, L.P., a subsidiary of Sprint Nextel, intends to use the capacity provided by ITC to offer switching services to cable operators that would use those services to provide cable-based telephony to their subscribers. Asserting that only common carriers may exercise rights to interconnection, ITC argues that Sprint is not a common carrier and is therefore not eligible for interconnection because it keeps its service agreements with the cable companies confidential. In a ruling handed down in 2005, however, the Iowa Utilities Board disagreed, concluding that, with respect to the service Sprint provides to the cable companies, Sprint qualifies as a common carrier that is entitled to interconnection. Earlier this year, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa affirmed that ruling, inducing ITC to seek review before the Eighth Circuit. During oral arguments, Judge William Jay Riley focused on the question of whether offering service to “all comers” was enough to establish Sprint as a common carrier that is entitled to interconnection with incumbent telcos such as ITC. Although counsel for ITC admitted, “we’re conceding for the purposes of this appeal that [Sprint is] holding [itself] out” as a common carrier, she added that, under federal law, a common carrier “must deal with all comers on an indifferent basis . . . [and] we can’t tell” if Sprint is doing that given the confidentiality of its agreements. After establishing that airlines are common carriers, Riley questioned ITC on the difference between how airlines charge different prices to different passengers according to class and how Sprint might set different prices for different cable operators. Although ITC replied that airlines “don’t try to keep [prices] secret,” Riley quipped: “I just have a hard time understanding why confidentiality makes any difference.”