To the salutes of some telcos and the
continuing concern of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association,
the FCC Tuesday launched a data-collection initiative to inform a review of its
special access regs.
a 3-2 party line vote in August, the FCC suspended its current benchmarks for
deregulating the rates of special access (business) broadband services while it
better determines where there is competition for that service.
"better determining" part is the just-announced data collection
framework. The FCC has tried voluntary data collections in the past, but some
players were no-shows.
National Cable & Telecommunications Association argued the commission has
proposed too extensive and burdensome a data collection effort, pointing to the
"extreme burden that a nationwide, building-by-building data request
would impose on cable operators and while it was still vetting the
100-page-plus order, the trade group said in a statement that it "remain
concerned that it could result in significant and burdensome reporting
requirements for competitive providers."
was not clear just how burdensome the final version was -- Republican Ajit Pai,
who shared NCTA's concern, supported the final version and praised the chairman
for compromising on some points. But Pai also said that the data collection
proposal, though improved from the original, was still overbroad and should
have started with sample markets rather than "seeking information about
every cell tower, office building, factory, farm, and other enterprise facility
in the country" and making industry, rather than the FCC, code each street
FCC rules, telcos are required to lease special access lines to competitors.
But the FCC deregulated AT&T and others' special access lines in 2009 in
cases where competitive triggers are met.
lines are the "last mile" dedicated broadband lines to businesses,
which incumbent local exchange carriers like AT&T dominate. By contrast,
residential customers can generally choose from cable or phone lines for their
commission over a dozen years ago removed "dominant pricing"
regulations, while continuing to regulate interconnection and reasonable
pricing per its Title II common carrier regulation of Independent Local
Exchange Carrier (ILECs). Ever since, the commission has been under pressure
from public interest groups to re-regulate special access.
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
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.