FCC Sets Dec. 15 Date for Special Access Data Drop

The FCC is proceeding with its data collection on the special access (businesses broadband services) market, with a Dec. 15 deadline for responses from incumbent providers and competitors like cable operators and wireless companies.

The FCC is collecting data from buyers and sellers of special access service to determine how competitive the marketplace is for the services, which include services carrying voice and data from cell towers to businesses and from ATMs and credit card readers.

Under FCC rules, telcos are required to lease special access lines to competitors, like cable operators. But the FCC deregulated AT&T and others' special access lines in 2009 in cases where competitive triggers are met.

In a 3-2 party line vote in August 2012, the FCC suspended its benchmarks for deregulating the rates of special access services so it could better determine where there is competition for that service. In December 2012, the commission proposed the new data collection effort.

It released a clarified order in September 2013, but in December of that year two petitions for reconsideration were filed.

And, as with all new paperwork collection regulations, the original order had to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget. That approval came Aug. 15 of this year and the FCC has resolved the petitions without further delaying implementation.

In response, the FCC has modified the item per OMB instructions and set the deadline date. And the FCC means it. Failure to comply with the data reporting requirements means a fine up to $160,000 for each day of continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1,575,000. False statements could mean prison time, the FCC adds.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has argued that the FCC had majorly lowballed the amount of work and money it will take by thousands of hours and millions of dollars.

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.