FCC eyes special access regulation, draws criticism from broadband supporters

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The Federal Communications Commission is taking a look at "special access" rate regulation, which has some broadband Internet supporters a bit concerned that the FCC is ramping up to micromanage a space where it's been largely absent.

For those who don't know, special access services are large pipe--mostly copper--connections used by businesses and mobile carriers to connect to the Internet, and about 80 percent of them are controlled by Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T).

Most see special access as the "middle mile of the Internet,"  and those original networks are quickly being supplanted by faster, broader cable, fiber optic and Ethernet loops.

Now, according to reports coming from Washington, the FCC wants to get involved with special access networks via a special order issued by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski--even though since 1996 the comission has been banned by law from micromanaging the Internet.

"The order itself is largely aimed at expanding the FCC's data collection efforts to help it understand the current state of special access. But it's clear that the end-game is the re-regulation of legacy wholesale services, with a lustful eye toward regulation of broadband generally," journalist Larry Downes wrote in Forbes.

And that, he wrote, should not be allowed to happen: "Whether it's special access or any other aspect of the broadband economy, efforts by the FCC to return to the days of industry micromanagement must be resisted (because) the agency is simply not constituted to decide winners and losers in the emerging broadband economy."

For more:
 - see the Forbes story

Industry Voices: Special-access proceeding wastes FCC's time and companies' capital

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