AT&T: FCC's Flawed BDS Analysis Prompts Irrational Results

An AT&T D.C. exec took direct aim at the FCC's business data services data collection, saying the commission was basing its proposed BDS revision on a handful of "outlier" stats that could spell disaster for broadband investment.

The FCC spent years collecting data on competition in the provision of business data services (formerly dubbed special access), the business broadband services, like credit card transactions, that are increasingly the currency of the economy.

Based on that data, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler back in April proposed a new "tech-neutral" rate regulation framework.

BDS lines are dedicated connections used by businesses and institutions to deliver voice and data traffic, including for ATMs and credit card transactions. The FCC regs have been applied to the larger ILECs—Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier—but the chairman thinks they should apply across the board where more competition is needed, based on data AT&T has long argued is flawed.

In a blog post Monday, Caroline Van Wie, AT&T assistant VP of federal regulatory, minced no words, likening the FCC data analysis to the third category of lies provided by iconic British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Van Wie said the FCC had ignored the weight of evidence that the BDS market was competitive, instead using flawed and inconsistent data and erratic results that were of no use in supporting conclusions about market power of ILECs—like AT&T.

While FCC staffers have labeled "some" of the results "difficult to believe" says AT&T, the problems are far more pervasive it maintains.

Wheeler has said he wants to vote an order on the BDS regulatory reset before the end of the year.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.