USTelecom wants cable's business services dominance considered in new special access rules

As the FCC begins to cull through the mountains of data on special access services, USTelecom, the industry forum focused on incumbent telcos, says the regulator should consider how cable has become a dominant force in the business segment.

The organization points to how cable business service units have invested about $6 billion in capital, while competitive fiber providers have spent an estimated $9 billion, on broadband infrastructure and services targeting businesses.

USTelecom has launched a campaign to consider the growth and investment service providers have made in the business broadband market as it moves to update special access regulations.

It says the FCC should champion "pro-investment policies that work for business customers, not specific companies, and look beyond yesterday's technologies toward the networks of the future."

The association points out that competitive providers and wireless operators have a number of discounts and choices for wireless backhaul and other special access services.

The data collected by the FCC shows a multitude of providers -- cable, fiber and fixed wireless -- compete for business customers in what it says is a "thriving marketplace."

"We urge the FCC to recognize that the marketplace has changed, and to innovate with us by modernizing its policy and regulation," said Walter McCormick, CEO of USTelecom, in a release.

Despite seeing the emergence of cable in the special access market, competitive providers and wireless operators argue that these operators lack the ubiquity of the traditional telco networks.

Wireless operators like Sprint (NYSE: S), which is moving to realign its wireless backhaul structure by using a mix of microwave and dark fiber services, currently pay about $1 billion a year to ILECs like AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) to use special access circuits for wireless backhaul.

On the eve of the FCC's deadline to submit comments on the special access proceeding, Charles McKee, VP of government affairs for federal and state regulatory at Sprint, said the high costs of special access circuits could result in driving prices of its wireless services for its customers.

"The inflated costs of these circuits and the unreasonable tie up provisions associated with these circuits result in higher prices for consumers, less innovation and slower speeds," McKee said.

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
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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
Wheeler: Transparency critical in IP, copper network transition

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