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High Court Says Cities Can't Be Phone Companies


Washington – In a ruling for Missouri, the U.S. Supreme Court says states may block cities and other local governments from becoming phone service providers.

Wednesday's ruling says Congress intended to broaden competition in the telecommunications field, but it did not mean to pit states, private phone companies and local governments against each other.

The justices were asked to interpret the 1996 telecommunications law designed to bring consumers nationwide choices in phone service.

The law says states may not prohibit "any entity" from getting into the phone business. But the high court says the wording doesn't include political sub-divisions of states.

The cases are Federal Communications Commission v. Missouri Municipal League, 02-1386; Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League, 02-1238; and Southwestern Bell Telephone v. Missouri Municipal League, 02-1405.


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