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National Ass’n of Regulatory Utility Comm’rs v. Federal Commc’ns Comm’n, 880 F.2d 422 (D.C. Cir. 1989) (full-text) (NARUC III).

Appellate Court Proceedings[]

The appellate court considered a challenge to the FCC's decision to preempt state regulation of "inside wiring." The Commission had found inside wiring to be beyond the scope of its Title II regulation and simultaneously preempted state regulation of such wiring.

The court held that the Commission had authority to issue a preemption orders insofar as necessary “to encourage competition in the provision, installation, and maintenance of inside wiring.”[1] Although it did “agree with the FCC that this policy [was] consistent with the goals of the Act, and that it [had] the authority to implement this policy with respect to interstate communications,”[2] petitioners had conceded that “inside wiring installation and maintenance . . . are integral to telephone communication,”[3] — a fact critical to the Commission’s exercise of preemption authority.

In its orders, the Commission had emphasized that “[o]ur prior preemption decisions have generally been limited to activities that are closely related to the provision of services and which affect the provision of interstate services.”[4] The term “services” referred to “common carrier communication services” within the scope of the Commission’s Title II jurisdiction.[5] “In short,” the Commission explained, “the interstate telephone network will not function as efficiently as possible without the preemptive detariffing of inside wiring installation and maintenance.”[6]

The court found that the Commission’s preemption of state regulation of inside wiring was thus ancillary to its regulation of interstate phone service.


  1. Id. at 429-30.
  2. Id. (citation omitted).
  3. id. at 427 (emphasis added).
  4. In re Detariffing the Installation and Maintenance of Inside Wiring, 1 F.C.C.R. 1190, 1192, ¶17 (1986).
  5. Id.
  6. Id.