BT Global implores FCC to take action on special access reform

BT Global (NYSE: BT) has asked the FCC to place caps on the fees AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) can charge for special access services such as TDM-based T1 and DS-3 to "level the playing field," reports The Telegraph.

In its native UK market, BT is required to cap what it charges competitors like TalkTalk (LSE: TALK.L) to use its copper and fiber networks to deliver services to their customers via its Openreach division.

"There is little competition, no transparency and prices are too high," a BT spokesman told The Telegraph. "This is in stark contrast to the UK where access prices are properly regulated and transparent and all users receive equal treatment."

Bas Burger President, US & Canada, Global Industry Verticals for BT Global Services, told FierceTelecom while Ethernet is the key next-gen technology, the near-term reality is that AT&T's recent move to end long-term contracts for TDM-based services does not take into account that it is not available everywhere.    

"Eventually we will move to Ethernet, but in the meantime you need to be able to get good access to customers," he said. "If this means no discounts, I assume this will mean pricing go and will make the problem even bigger."  

Although BT Global submitted its concerns to the FCC during the recent government shut down, Burger said that "we did not expect an answer around that period but hopefully it might come now." 

BT Global is not the only U.S.-based competitor that's upset about the high cost of special access circuits.

AT&T recently told BT and other competitors such as Sprint (NYSE: S) and tw telecom (Nasdaq: TWTC) that they would stop offering extended contracts and discounts for the TDM-based special access lines that provide services to business customers and wireless backhaul. The service provider said this move is part of its ongoing effort to migrate its network from TDM to IP by 2020. 

In a joint letter to the FCC, a group of seven competitive service providers protested AT&T's plans. 

While the FCC has been looking into the special access pricing issue, there have not been any major developments.

In September, the regulator released its revised data request on the Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking providing instructions covering special access. The FCC will use it to see if it has to make any changes to its pricing flexibility rules.

For more:
- The Telegraph has this article

Related articles:
Sprint, other competitive carriers rail against AT&T's special access rate increase
FCC takes next step with special access reform
FCC launches special access data collection initiative
FCC temporarily suspends effort to deregulate special access
Special access regulation only a first step, says NoChokePoints coalition

Updated article on Oct. 29 with quotes from Bas Burger, US & Canada, Global Industry Verticals for BT Global Services.