FCC extends deadline to file comments on special access proceeding

The FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) is giving incumbent telcos and their wholesale CLEC customers more time to file comments in response to the regulator's Special Access final notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) in the special access rulemaking proceeding.

WCB has extended the deadlines for filing comments to July 1, 2015, and reply comments to July 22, 2015.

In Section IV.B of the Special Access FNPRM, the FCC asked for comments on possible changes to its rules for the special access services provided by ILECs like AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), in price cap areas.

Although the final deadline for responding to the data collection was Feb. 27, 2015, WCB said it is in the process of facilitating public access to the collected data consistent with the restrictions contained in the protective order released on Oct. 1, 2014. It has not yet made the data publicly available.

WCB added that the initial deadlines of April 6, 2015, and May 18, 2015, respectively, left interested parties with insufficient time to access and review the information before filing comments and reply comments.

Special access has been a key regulatory issue, particularly for competitive service providers.

Competitive carriers, even those that operate as both a CLEC and an ILEC like Windstream, have argued that ILECs like AT&T need to provide equivalently priced IP replacement services for the copper-based T-1 circuits they supply today while incumbents argue they need more regulatory flexibility.  

Controversy over the special access segment emerged when AT&T in September 2013 proposed that it would no longer support term plans longer than 36 months for tariffed TDM services, including DS1, DS3, analog private line and DS0 services.

Following protest from various competitive providers, including Sprint, Level 3 and Windstream, AT&T in January 2014 sought permission from the FCC to withdraw its proposed tariff changes on TDM-based special-access services it sells to competitive service providers.

For more:
- see the FCC release

Related articles:
AT&T withdraws its special access tariff proposal
FCC delays AT&T's special access request
Sprint, other competitive carriers rail against AT&T's special access rate increase
IP transition shouldn't be a license to price gouge CLECs, business customers, says Windstream

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