The issue specifically involves an outfit called Global NAPs, which acted as an "ISP’s ISP," offering a huge modem bank to several other ISPs for dial-up service.
The business started in the 1990s as a sort of scam against what’s now Verizon. By aggregating a lot of modems and defining the local calling area widely, the company could claim "recipricol compensation" from Verizon. Verizon had that stuffed on the federal level in 2001. Then in 2003 it got state regulators to let it define things its way, making what had been local data calls into long-distance. Global NAPs protested, and the precedents looked good, but the US First Circuit ruled for the state last week, on technical grounds.
Thus, Verizon cut off Global NAPs, and dial-up service to most competing ISPs in Massachusetts.
This is a complex issue. It is an in-state issue. But it’s one that
could come to every other state, because local phone monopolies can
manipulate nearly every state regulatory commission, and have every
incentive to do so.
Could it happen where you live? Yes, but it will take time.
Can you do something about it? Yes, if you live in Massachusetts, you
have an obligation to make this a big political issue, and hold
politicians’ feet to the fire on it.
This is how political change happens.
This could turn out to be good news. If people pay attention.