Verizon Communications was handed a legal victory last Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court, which ordered further FCC consideration of a December 2007 order that denied Verizon’s requests for forbearance from rules requiring the company to offer certain unbundled network elements to competitors. The petitions pertained to six markets—Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rhode Island and Virginia Beach, Virginia—where, among other things, Verizon had sought relief from Section 251(c) loop and transport unbundling obligations, dominant carrier tariffing requirements, and Part 61 price cap regulations. Rejecting Verizon’s claim that competition in the affected markets was vigorous enough to warrant forbearance, the FCC determined that the “evidence of competition does not satisfy the Section 10 forbearance standard with respect to any of the forbearance Verizon requests.” In an opinion that was largely redacted to protect confidential data, the three-judge panel agreed with Verizon’s contention that the FCC failed to take into account the company’s full slate of competitors and thus remanded the FCC decision “on the limited ground of the FCC’s unexplained departure from its precedent.” Proclaiming, “there needs to be a common-sense mechanism to update regulations to keep pace with the rapid changes in the marketplace,” Verizon praised the court for affirming “that the FCC applied the wrong standard, and failed to account for the full extent of existing and constantly growing competition in these already highly competitive areas.” Despite the court’s pronouncement, acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps observed, “we should always strive for a rigorous analysis of these forbearance petitions and we are confident of our ability to do just that on remand.”