The FCC on Wednesday approved Qwest Communications’ request for forbearance from certain Title II and “Computer Inquiry” regulations as they pertain to the company’s broadband services, justifying the decision on broad “competitive trends without regard to specific geographic markets.” In granting Qwest “substantial” relief from such regulation, the agency follows the path it took with respect to similar requests filed previously by AT&T, Embarq Corp., Frontier Communications and Verizon Communications (whose petition received a “deemed grant” in 2006 as a result of the FCC’s failure to act by the prescribed statutory deadline). The order covers non-time division multiplex (TDM) and packet-switched services that transmit at speeds in excess of 200 kilobits per second. According to the agency, such services include frame relay, asynchronous transfer mode services, virtual private and local area networks, video transmission, optical network and Ethernet-based services. The FCC stipulated, however, that Qwest will continue to be subject to current statutory and regulatory obligations in its capacity as an incumbent local exchange carrier or Bell operating company. Although FCC Chairman Kevin Martin predicted that forbearance would provide Qwest with “the flexibility to further deploy its broadband services,” Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein took issue with the FCC’s decision to “continue down its ill-considered road of granting far-reaching forbearance,” as they complained that the order “lacks any rigorous analysis of the impact on small and medium size business customers as well as communications providers who use these services.” A Qwest spokeswoman praised the order as one that will “allow Qwest to provide customized pricing and offerings to fulfill the individual needs of business customers who use . . . broadband.”