Competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) were disappointed by a ruling last Friday by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a pair of FCC orders that granted incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) AT&T, Embarq Corp. and Frontier Communications relief from dominant carrier pricing regulations that pertain to the incumbent carriers’ special access lines. The orders at the heart of the case were handed down in late 2007 by the FCC, which determined that AT&T, Embarq and Frontier would no longer have to comply with dominant carrier tariff filing, cost support, discontinuance, and certain other requirements that pertain to non-TDM optical transmission services and to TDM-based packet-switched services with transmission speeds exceeding 200 Kbps in each direction. Although the FCC agreed to forbear from applying these rules after evaluating competitive and other factors within the broadband services market on a nationwide scale, the agency maintained basic Title II common carrier regulations for the ILECs in question. Arguing that the rulings were “arbitrary and capricious,” the Ad Hoc Telecommunications Users Committee and other petitioners told the court that the FCC had erred in evaluating the nationwide broadband market instead of reviewing special access services within certain local markets. Noting, however, that the DC Circuit had rejected similar arguments in a previous case involving EarthLink, the three judge panel determined that the petitioners’ emphasis “on the narrowest possible market is unavailing in this case.” Adding that the appeal “might pack more force had the FCC lifted all common carrier regulation on the ILECs special access lines,” the court found that the FCC “reached a . . . debatable, but ultimately reasonable, conclusion that eliminating the extra layer of dominant carrier regulation on the ILECs special access lines—while leaving in place basic Title II common carrier regulation—will better promote competition.” Welcoming the ruling, AT&T said: “at a time when policymakers should be encouraging the migration of copper facilities to fiber-based networks and other advanced infrastructure, today’s court decision reinforces . . . that objective.”