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Special access regulation only a first step, says NoChokePoints coalition

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The FCC's proposed changing in regulations for pricing of dedicated lines is a "welcome first step" in addressing the issue of price deregulation, says a special interest group, but it won't change the way major telcos have been doing business in currently deregulated markets.

The NoChokePoints coalition, a group that wants the FCC to change current special access pricing rules, is asking the FCC to scrap rules established in 1999 that allow large incumbent carriers like Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T) to seek price deregulation of special access services—dedicated lines used by businesses for activities like credit card processing, cash machines, broadband and other telecom services including wireless backhaul.

Members of NoChokePoints include tw telecom (Nasdaq: TWTC), Clearwire, BT (NYSE: BT), CBeyond, Sprint (NYSE: S), and XO Communications, among others. twtelecom is especially interested in the FCC's currently-circulating order, according to a report by PC World, because it competes directly with AT&T and Verizon in the special-access market—although those two ILECs control about 80 percent of the segment.

The NoChokePoints coalition isn't the only group paying attention to the FCC's proposed order. Critics of special access reregulation accuse the commission of "micromanaging" a space that ran just fine without the FCC's interference for more than a decade.  

Special access lines are legacy services ranging from 56k dial-up to Ethernet, and they are often perceived as the original "middle mile" of wireline. These lines, critics argue, are being replaced anyway by faster Ethernet loops, fiber optic and cable networks, making the need for new regulations unnecessary.

An AT&T spokesperson also questioned the need for new regulation, saying that the carrier doesn't want to spend millions of dollars in litigation over pricing in various markets.

For more:
- PC World has this article

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

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