Sprint, Windstream, industry groups applaud public availability of special access data

Sprint (NYSE: S), Windstream and a host of industry groups have come out in support of the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau's decision to make industry data gathered about special access services available for public review.

A number of competitive service providers such as Sprint, Windstream, XO and others purchase special access data services from ILECs such as AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) to fulfill business service needs outside of areas where they have not currently built out their own network facilities.

Windstream has set an initiative to reduce its special access spending by $1 billion by building out fiber to more buildings initially in five markets this year. 

The service provider, which acts both as an ILEC and CLEC said the review could bring light to a number of issues such as how much competition exists in the local metro markets and if ILECs are providing fair pricing.

"Windstream commends the FCC for the announcement that it will make special access data available for public review, as well as commission an independent analysis," said Eric Einhorn, Windstream's senior vice president of government affairs, in a statement. "Key questions that will be asked, and hopefully answered, in this proceeding are:  How much competition exists in local markets around the country?  And how can we preserve competition where it is thriving and foster it where it is not?  All parties benefit from this push by the FCC to bring closure to the special access debate."

Sprint said that the data could drive long overdue updates to existing regulatory policies regarding special access services.   

"We are confident the data will incent the Commission to update 1990's policies, which have undercut competition, innovation and productivity," said Jeffrey Silva, manager of corporate communications for Sprint, in an e-mail to FierceTelecom. "Consumers, businesses, education, healthcare and others are depending on the FCC to enact policies that give all segments of our economy and society vital connections to the broadband world."  

Over the past year, the FCC has been collecting data in order to analyze competition in the special access market, which has annual revenues of approximately $40 billion.

NORC at the University of Chicago will contact members of the public to enable review of the data the FCC has collected. Housed in a secure data enclave hosted by NORC, a public policy research institution, and will be accessible remotely as well as through NORC's facilities in Bethesda, Md.

Boston University Professor of Economics Marc Rysman will provide advice and produce a white paper examining the nature of competition and marketplace practices in the special access market.

For more:
- see this FCC release

Related articles:
Level 3, Birch and BT Americas say FCC has power to regulate ILEC special access rates
BT Americas' Burger says AT&T, Verizon have too much control over special access pricing
Windstream amps up special access chorus against AT&T, other ILECs
AT&T knocks Windstream's request for equivalently-priced wholesale Ethernet access services