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53 Federal Communications Law Journal 239 (2001)


The shape of communications policy has been influenced by the jurisdictional tension between federal and state agencies and by the interplay between rival telecommunication providers. From the outset, the publicly switched telephone network (“PSTN”) was monopolistic and dually regulated by federal and state agencies. In recent years, facilitated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, vast competition in the local exchange market has developed between incumbent carriers and competitive carriers. This Article provides an overview of this competition and analyzes the dual regulation of the PSTN. In addition, this Article discusses the dispute between incumbents and competitive carriers as to whether calls to Internet service providers should be deemed local or interstate, and provides a summary of the differing views of this dilemma. This Article concludes by contending that, although Internet access is essentially interstate in nature, state commissions can best define the shape that communications policy should take in the digital age.