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The City of Houston does not have to reimburse Southwestern Bell for moving its telecommunications equipment out of the public right of way, the 5th Circuit ruled.

A three-judge panel held that the Telecommunications Act protects municipalities when they exercise ownership over public rights of way. Therefore, Southwestern Bell is not entitled to be reimbursed for the cost of moving its equipment.

Southwestern Bell had claimed that a Houston ordinance violated the act by requiring telecommunications companies to move facilities at their own expense.

Writing for the panel, Judge Barksdale ruled that in order for the telephone company to prevail, it would have to prove that the act specifically created a right to be reimbursed for the moving of its equipment.

Also, Barksdale ruled that even the local government protection afforded by the act does not indicate a right for telecommunications companies

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