Sprint says special access services below 50 Mbps are ‘not competitive,’ recommends new test

Ethernet cables in on premise equipment

In the wake of claims by several telecom providers that the FCC’s survey of competitive providers for its business data services (BDS, nee special access) re-regulation is flawed, Sprint this week proposed a new competitive market test that would take sub-50 Mbps broadband speeds out of consideration.

Representatives for Sprint met with members of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau to lay out their idea for the new test.

Sprint proposed a competitive market test for BDS offering speeds about 50 Mbps and at or below 1 Gbps, suggesting that BDS with speeds below 50 Mbps are “not competitive” – which would keep business service providers offering lower speeds, such as many cable MSOs, out of the commission’s future surveys of existing competitive services in the U.S.

The provider’s suggestion falls in line with an eight-part proposal submitted in late June by Verizon and telecom industry group Incompas. The joint proposal also suggested that Ethernet services have a minimum speed threshold of 50 Mbps, as well as a competitive market test, periodic reviews and pricing caps, among other things.

For those unfamiliar with the special access/BDS rulemaking debate, this sounds like a bad thing for the cable operators – but it likely is not.

Comcast, Charter Communications, Cox Communications and other MSOs that also offer business services have recently been placed at the center of the contentious commentary ahead of regulatory changes to the BDS market.

On one side, providers like CenturyLink and Frontier are saying that the FCC’s recent survey of competitive providers in the U.S. was flawed because it did not take into account the cable operators offering business services in those areas. Both carriers joined a new industry group founded specifically to challenge the new BDS proposal, Invest in Broadband for America.

On the other side, cable MSOs argue that their business services don’t count as BDS because they do not offer service level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee certain classes or quality of data services, for one.

Cox recently filed comments with the FCC asking the regulator to keep EoHFC (Ethernet over hybrid fiber-coax) services out of BDS rules because the technology, which it uses to deliver business services, is “best-effort” and therefore doesn’t meet the SLA requirements for wholesale data services that CLECs provide to businesses.

For more:
- see this FCC filing (PDF) 

Related articles:
Comcast to FCC: BDS rate regulations could chill broadband investments
Cox Communications wants EoHFC kept out of BDS regulation
CenturyLink, Frontier lead new special access coalition targeting BDS proposal
CenturyLink, Frontier criticize latest Incompas-Verizon BDS rate proposal, saying it's flawed
Charter, Comcast, Cox have a lot at stake in FCC’s BDS review