June 25, 2008

Supreme Court to Review AT&T Antitrust Suit

The US Supreme Court has agreed to review an antitrust lawsuit filed by several internet service providers against AT&T unit Pacific Bell Telephone, alleging the company indulged in anti-competitive practices.

Pacific Bell Telephone was sued by several internet services providers in 2003, including Linkline Communications, Notelog, and In-Reach Internet for unreasonably high charges for accessing its phone networks. Federal law stipulates Pacific Bell has to sell wholesale access to service providers.

Last year, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco allowed the lawsuit to proceed in a federal court, but in May this year, the US Solicitor General's office filed a brief stating federal antitrust laws don't cover internet companies' claims.

US Solicitor General Paul Clement has urged the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit ruling saying such a liability theory does not fit the court's modern antitrust laws.

Meanwhile, AT&T has claimed it has no obligation to deal with internet service providers and the lawsuit should be quashed.