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FCC backs off special access vote

Tue, 06/26/2012 - 2:26pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

The FCC yesterday did not vote on a special access reform proposal, in turn granting by default petitions by AT&T to deregulate special access service in San Francisco, San Antonio and Oakland, Calif.

The FCC had a deadline of Monday to vote on key legislation that would regulate how much AT&T and other incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) can charge for access to core broadband infrastructure. AT&T had been petitioning the FCC to release it from caps on special access fees in the Bay Area and San Antonio markets.

AT&T has vehemently argued that regulation of special access will only hurt competition going forward.

"Our petitions measured the level of competition from facilities-based competitors and clearly and easily met the triggers," wrote Bob Quinn, senior vice president of federal regulatory and chief privacy officer for AT&T, in a blog post.

Quinn said he was content with the FCC's decision to hold off on a vote until it had gathered more information from competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs), which pay ILECs for access to their fiber and copper.

"It is our hope that facts based on the Commission’s promised data collection will inform its judgments on this market and allow it to focus on the transition to an all-IP world," Quinn wrote.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has been vocal about regulation of special access, noting that smaller players are at a disadvantage to larger providers like AT&T and Verizon, which own most of the core communications infrastructure.

Quinn argues the CLECs like Sprint have not been forthright with the FCC about how much they actually pay in special access.

"The arguments made by the CLEC community are that the FCC should ignore the data they themselves refuse to supply and instead jump to a re-regulation of Ethernet and IP technologies – a move which would stifle all broadband investment incentives and would drastically impede that vital transition,” Quinn wrote.

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