AT&T, CenturyLink slam Verizon/Incompas special access pact

AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) are taking aim at the latest business data services (BDS) proposal made by Verizon and Incompas, calling it nothing more than a self-serving measure.

In a letter to the FCC, AT&T said that Verizon's sale of large parts of its wireline assets to Frontier and other providers means it will start buying up more special access service to deliver business services and for backhauling wireless traffic.

"Having shed substantial portions of its wireline operations, and with a pending purchase of XO Communications, Verizon, like Sprint, has become a net purchaser of BDS," AT&T said in a FCC filing. "Its joint proposal with Incompas is thus not a compromise, which requires two parties with divergent interests. It is simply joint advocacy to advance their common interests."

CenturyLink, which was joined again by Consolidated Communications, FairPoint and Frontier Communications in a group it calls mid-sized ILECs, echoed a similar sentiment in its separate filing.

"The Verizon and INCOMPAS so-called business data 'compromise' is anything but that and simply not credible," CenturyLink said in an FCC filing. "Now that Verizon and Sprint, INCOMPAS' largest member, have sold off vast amounts of their own wireline networks, it is no surprise that they are seeking a free ride on the backs of companies that continue to invest billions of dollars in their fiber networks every year. This proposal should be dismissed for what it is—a self-serving attempt to ignore the cost of building tomorrow's infrastructure while seeking below cost rates from the providers who build the nation's networks." 

Earlier this week, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Incompas to proposed a new 8 element outline for a framework for Business Data Services (BDS).

In a letter to the FCC, Verizon and the industry group said that while they have not come to an agreement on all elements to implement the framework, the pair supports a common approach that can address current and future competition frameworks.

Besides serving business customers, AT&T and CenturyLink also disagree with the notion that the lack of BDS regulation is needed to ensure competitive rates for wireless backhaul for current 4G and upcoming 5G services.

AT&T cites how Sprint is working with a host of different service providers, even cable to get Ethernet over DOCSIS services for business customers.

Having already built a well-developed fiber-based Ethernet product with its ILEC and CLEC partners, the EoC and EoDOCSIS products will enable Sprint reach more customers.

"Suggestions that reregulation of BDS is necessary to facilitate wireless carriers' transition to 5G are nonsense," AT&T said. "To date, Sprint is the only wireless provider seeking these rule changes, but shortly after the Commission issued this Notice, Sprint announced" that it is partnering with cable companies to offer Ethernet over DOCSIS via its cable wholesale partners.

Similarly, CenturyLink cites how wireless operators like Verizon and Sprint are migrating towards dark fiber-based solutions.

"In CenturyLink's experience, backhaul for wireless services is transitioning to dark fiber, for both technical and economic reasons," CenturyLink said. "As a result, BDS price reductions (or ceilings) may not have a significant impact on 5G deployment."

For more:
- see AT&T's FCC filing (PDF)

Related articles:
Verizon, Incompas propose new 8-point special access plan, encourage facilities-based competition
Verizon, Incompas call truce in special access regulation war
CenturyLink: Cable operators have 22 times more Ethernet-capable locations than BDS data lists
USTelecom touts study saying special access regulations will stifle broadband growth
CFA says incumbents hold on special access market cost consumers, U.S. economy $150B since 2010

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