Autotel v. Nevada Bell Telephone Company

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 09-04-2012
  • Case #: 10-15663
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fisher for the Court; Circuit Judge Rawlinson and District Judge Wright
  • Full Text Opinion

Interim digital interconnection and symmetrical pricing is only required to be provided during negotiations between telecommunications companies that lack a prior interconnectivity agreement, because 47 C.F.R. § 20.11(e) fully incorporates 47 C.F.R. § 51.715.

Nevada Bell Telephone Company (“AT&T Nevada”) has provided Autotel with interconnection to its telecommunications network since 1994. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) promulgated rules in 2005 that voided AT&T Nevada and Autotel’s existing compensation agreement for interconnectivity. The 2005 rules authorized AT&T Nevada to compel Autotel to negotiate a new compensation agreement. Autotel twice filed complaints with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (“PUCN”) regarding these negotiations, which the PUCN rejected as procedurally deficient. Autotel appealed, seeking damages under 47 U.S.C. § 207. Autotel claimed that AT&T had failed to provide interim digital interconnection with symmetrical pricing as required by 47 C.F.R. §§ 51.715 and 20.11(e). The Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Autotel’s claims under §§ 51.715 and 20.11(e). The Court held that interim digital interconnection and symmetrical pricing is only required to be provided during negotiations between companies without a prior interconnectivity agreement, because § 20.11(e) fully incorporates § 51.715. The Court based its determination on the general, rather than specific, language in § 20.11(e)’s cross-reference to § 51.715, on the regulatory purpose behind the FCC’s promulgation of § 20.11(e), and on a natural reading of § 20.11(e). The Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Autotel’s failure to negotiate in good faith claim because Autotel failed to meet prudential exhaustion requirements, but remanded the case to the district court for a limited consideration of whether Autotel adequately pled a claim for relief under 47 U.S.C. § 51.717. AFFIRMED in part; REMANDED in part.

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