AT&T withdraws its special access tariff proposal

AT&T (NYSE: T) has gotten permission from the FCC to withdraw its proposed tariff changes on TDM-based special access services it sells to competitive service providers.

It also said that it would grandfather certain optional term plans on special access services.

However, this move is hardly a real win for the CLEC community. The telco still plans to file another proposal to increase special access rates.

"Given the changes are a necessary part of the transition from TDM-based services to all IP-based services, we intend to re-file these tariff changes very soon," AT&T wrote in its filing.

This news drew fire from competitive carrier Sprint (NYSE: S), which uses AT&T's TDM-based circuits to deliver business services and for wireless backhaul.   

"Today, AT&T has delivered good news and bad news to the manufacturers, financial institutions, retailers, educational institutions and telecom companies who purchase its special access circuits," said Charles McKee, vice president of Government Affairs for Sprint in a statement. "The good news is that AT&T has withdrawn its planned special access rate hike announced last year; the bad news is the company intends to refile the tariff meant to hike rates. This move does give the FCC more time to consider AT&T's ill-conceived move. We remain hopeful that the FCC will stop this rate hike which will hurt job creation and harm innovation across virtually every sector of the economy."

The NoChokePoints Coalition, a group that represents competitive service providers, expressed similar concerns.

"That a company could unilaterally announce its intention to raise prices on these critical high-speed broadband lines is yet another indication of market failure," the Coalition said in a statement. "Only in a collapsed marketplace could a carrier so casually announce price increases without fear that customers will seek services elsewhere."

According to Sprint and other competitive carriers, AT&T and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) collectively own an estimated 80 percent of the special access market.

In December, the FCC moved to halt AT&T's request to stop offering long-term contracts and the associated discounts on TDM-based special access circuits it sells to CLECs and wireless operators, at least for five months.

For more:
- see Sprint's response

Related articles:
AT&T sets TDM-to-IP transition trials to focus on challenges, service impact
FCC delays AT&T's special access request
Sprint, other competitive carriers rail against AT&T's special access rate increase