Like some regulatory Freddy Krueger, it looks like the FCC’s UNE rules just can’t be killed off. Earlier this year, it looked like the rules were doomed when the D.C. Court of Appeals struck down the regs–which require telephone companies to lease network elements to competitors. And only last month, the Supreme Court turned down requests to review the decision. It was widely assumed then that the rules, if not eliminated entirely, would be reduced to a minimal level. Recent news reports, however, now indicate that the Commission may in a few days adopt new rules that retain forced access requirements in certain circumstances, if there is not sufficient competition among telephone companies in a given area. That sounds reasonable, except that “competition” may be defined in an extremely narrow way–perhaps on a block by block basis. Thus, for instance, if there are a slew of competitors offering service on K Street, but none on L Street, the rules would be retained for L Street (even if competitors could easily expand into neigboring areas). Surprisingly, the new rules are being pushed by Chairman Michael Powell, usually seen as key defender of deregulation. We’re still awaiting details on what exactly the new rules will provide, but right now it looks like the UNE horror story will continue for some time to come.