Supreme Court declines to rule on Qwest case
By The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/14/2007 11:28:22 AM MDT
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court today turned down an appeal
from an Iowa telecommunications company that claimed Qwest
Communications International Inc. owed it money for wireless
phone calls that Qwest connected to its network.
At issue in the case, which was brought by Iowa Network Services
Inc., is whether federal regulators have the final say on
telecom rates or whether local call rates can be set by state
Lower federal courts ruled in Denver-based Qwest's favor and
gave Iowa's state utilities board a role in resolving the
By declining to take the case, without comment, the Supreme
Court let stand the lower court rulings in Qwest's favor, which
will save Qwest tens of millions of dollars in charges and
interest that INS had sought.
Qwest is the primary telephone service provider in 14 Midwestern
and Western states.
James Troup, Iowa Networks' attorney, said the rulings
undermined the ability of the Federal Communications Commission
to enforce uniform rates across the country and could also
affect other federally regulated industries, such as electric
and gas utilities and railroads.
The quarrel began in the late 1990s, when INS sought to bill
Qwest for wireless telephone calls that Qwest transmitted to
INS's networks, which INS then sent to local phone companies.
The calls were originated by third-party wireless carriers, not
INS argued that Qwest did not provide them with enough
information to determine which wireless companies originated the
call, making it impossible to bill firms for the use of their
network. At that point, INS sought payment from Qwest based on
rates that had been approved by the FCC.
Qwest, though, had sought a ruling in 2000 from the Iowa
Utilities Board, which said that since the calls in question are
local, rather than long-distance, they would not be subject to
the FCC-approved rates.
Iowa Network Services said in its petition to the Supreme Court
that the board's ruling overrides federally approved rates that
require telecom carriers to charge the same rates to all
customers, INS said.
A federal district court and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals,
however, agreed with much of the utility board's analysis. The
8th Circuit said that rather than nullifying the rates, the
utilities board's ruling meant they didn't apply to local
The case is Iowa Network Services Inc. v. Qwest Corp., 06-1217.
Iowa Network Services owns a stake in Newton, Iowa-based Iowa
Telecommunications Services Inc., whose shares dropped a penny
to $21.88 in early trading. Qwest shares rose 9 cents to $9.86.