• On September 30, 2010, the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina granted summary judgment in favor of certain rural local exchange carriers (“RLECs”) against the challenge lodged by AT&T Mobility and Alltel Communications against a North Carolina Utility Commission (NCUC) arbitration decision arising out of the RLECs’ 2005 demand for interconnection and reciprocal compensation rates. The underlying NCUC order agreed with the RLECs that they would be entitled to a single point of indirect interconnection with the wireless carriers. The reviewing court deferred to the NCUC’s finding that section 251 of the Communications Act did not require the RLECs to compensate the wireless carriers for the costs incurred by the intermediate transiting carrier – AT&T’s LEC affiliate – in getting the calls between the RLECs’ point of interconnection and the wireless carriers’ networks. The court also rejected the wireless carriers’ argument that the NCUC may not deviate from TELRIC-based rates: “To read the Act the way that plaintiffs read it, [R]LECs would be [left] with a draconian choice – they could either not enter into reciprocal compensation arrangements with the CMRS providers, and thus receive no compensation for terminating cell phone traffic on their network, or they could perform expensive and time consuming TELRIC cost studies... . Either way they would face significant economic losses. The intent of the Act is to provide for fair competition, not destruction of [R]LECs.” The court concluded by finding that the NCUC’s rates were supported by substantial evidence. New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC v. Finley, No. 5:09-cv-123, 2010 WL 3860834 (E.D.N.C).
  • Also on September 30, 2010, the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted summary judgment to Verizon Wireless (VZW) in its challenge of the denial by the Town of Oyster Bay Zoning Board of Appeals of VZW’s application for a special use permit to install its telecommunications equipment. The court found that VZW’s application had been supported by substantial evidence, including expert evidence of the alternatives considered; it also found that the only objections that led to the Board’s denial of Verizon’s application were “merely the speculation of several residents.” The court concluded that the “Board’s position that its decision was based on substantial evidence can only be described as preposterous,” and further concluded, albeit in dicta, that the Board’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious” and “significantly flawed in its analysis and conclusions.” The Board was ordered to grant the application. New York SMSA Ltd. Partnership v. Town of Oyster Bay Zoning Board of Appeals, Case No. 08-cv-4833 (E.D.N.Y.).