It's my copper and you can't have it!

— 12:00 AM on February 21, 2003

Darth Willis wrote in with a link to this story that could have a huge impact on DSL prices and adoption, both in the short and long term. The FCC voted today to eliminate requirements that copper lines be shared with competitors for broadband data service, unless the competitor also provides voice communications. This is a total 180 and a bit of a shock, especially to companies whose business model rests on providing broadband over other companies' copper wires. Just ask Covad, whose stock dropped 38% today on the news.

The Reuters blurb is, well, little more than a blurb, but has some commentary on the ruling here. This article claims that around 40% of all DSL connections rely on the line-sharing rule, so the potential short-term fallout is huge. Unfortunately, neither article addresses the pressing questions: When is this ruling supposed to take effect? Will it be appealed in the courts, and if so, what are the chances of it being reversed?

In other FCC news, a different ruling could mean higher speed DSL in the long-term. This ruling states that as long as new network deployments contain some fiber optics, the companies that deploy them will keep complete control of them. This will likely result in more extensive fiber deployment in neighborhoods, now that companies like SBC don't have to worry that they're laying expensive fiber runs just so their broadband competition can ride on top of them. More fiber means shorter copper runs and faster DSL. Of course, my question is, if the FCC flip-flopped on the line-sharing issue, what's to keep them from flip-flopping on this after the fiber has been buried?

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