Verizon, CenturyLink don't want interim special-access pricing for commercial Ethernet

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) may be in support of giving their CLEC wholesale customers fair pricing as they transition from legacy TDM to IP-based services, but any rules should only be applied to DS1 and DS3 special access services, they say.

Having a path to fair pricing is a key issue as the FCC moves forward with its review of special access services.

Earlier this month the FCC proposed that there should be protections to ensure that ILECs can't jack up prices on next-generation IP services. CLECs and their SMB customers that depend on lower-speed TDM-based T-1 and related services face uncertainty as incumbent carriers prepare to stop offering some of these services.

Verizon said in meeting a requirement to provide equivalently IP-based wholesale services, the regulator's "interim rules governing applications under section 214 to discontinue special-access services, those interim rules must be limited to DS1 and DS3 special access services and must sunset by a date certain."

CenturyLink agreed with Verizon's assessment, adding that it would provide what it calls a "glide path" that would allow a timetable for customers and CLECs to plan as the telco migrates services from TDM to IP and its last mile facilities from copper to fiber.

"A glide path provides certainty: for consumers by providing time to plan and adjust to new services; for CLECs with existing contracts; and for CenturyLink as it transitions its services from TDM to IP and its network from copper to fiber," wrote CenturyLink in an FCC filing. "We also stated that reasonably comparable wholesale services should apply only to DS1s and DS3s, and not to commercial platform services.

CenturyLink added that business "customers can obtain Ethernet local access service to commercial locations from numerous alternative providers, including cable providers" and that they "can also offer VoIP as an alternative to TDM voice service to commercial customers, which in fact it already does."

COMPTEL, an industry organization that represents CLECs and other competitive providers, said that ILECs like AT&T, and CenturyLink should be required to offer a replacement IP-based product that "is reasonably comparable to the existing product in order to be granted a discontinuance application for a wholesale service offering" in order to ensure that "business end-users can continue to receive the tailored, innovative and affordable service they need to operate their businesses."

COMPTEL added that the need for CLECs to deliver services to their end-customers by renting wholesale last mile facilities from ILECs should not be altered as they transition from TDM to IP.  

"The need of competitors to reach their end-user customers through incumbent wholesale last mile access services is not altered by the transition from TDM to IP," wrote COMPTEL. "If incumbent LECs were allowed to discontinue legacy services without preserving the availability of affordable last-mile connections to non-profits, anchor institutions, and business customers, then competition to serve these end users would be harmed. Indeed, as discussed in the meeting, there are close to 300 letters in the docket from end-user customers asking the Commission to preserve competitive choice."

For more:
- see Verizon's FCC filing (.pdf)
- see CenturyLink's FCC filing (.pdf)
- see COMPTEL's filing (.pdf)

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