NewsFactor reports that Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell is prescribing a 30-day negotiation period between the former Bell telephone companies and new competitors to settle the legal wrangling over the fees and conditions for use of the Bells’ infrastructure .

“No matter what twist or turns continued litigation will bring, eventually this matter will likely require further regulatory decisions,” says FCC chairman Michael Powell. “We must not waste a moment in developing ideas for new rules, so we can act quickly once the litigation merry-go-round finally stops spinning.”

A Federal court ruled on March 2 that the FCC wrongly gave power to state regulators to determine which parts of regional phone companies’ networks must be offered to competitors at wholesale rates. In addition, the court ruled the FCC has not proved that government-mandated line-sharing significantly helps the Bells’ rivals. USTA President Walter McCormick praised the decision, saying it was “a decisive victory for consumers, for innovation and for free markets.”

For details, see: www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_title=Powell_to_Telcos__Negotiate__Don_t_Litigate&story_id=23338