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Justices Asked To Dismiss GTE Suit

October 19, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Local telephone company GTE asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to dismiss a dispute over federal rules intended to keep phone service affordable in high-cost areas.

The justices had agreed in June to hear the case, and arguments are scheduled for Dec. 6. Such requests to dismiss a case generally are routinely granted.

The case involved rules adopted in 1996 by the Federal Communications Commission to ensure affordable ``universal service″ for everyone, including people in rural and other high-cost areas. GTE’s appeal argued that the subsidies it receives for serving high-cost customers were unfairly calculated under an FCC rule that understated the real cost.

GTE, now owned by Verizon Communications, told the court it wanted to drop its appeal because the FCC no longer was asserting authority over state universal-service activities.

The phone company said it still believes the FCC pricing standard is ``unsound and unlawful″ and is challenging it in another case. Verizon asked the justices this month to review the same pricing rule in a dispute stemming from Congress’ 1996 decision to open local phone service to competition.

Under that law, phone companies must let competitors use parts of their local phone service networks, in exchange for payment based on the FCC pricing rule. The justices have not yet said whether they will hear that appeal.

The case GTE seeks to dismiss is GTE Service Corp. v. FCC, 99-1244.

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