Windstream says ILEC construction charges create barriers for CLECs, business customers

Windstream said that the charges ILECs levy to construct facilities to serve a special access request from a competitor for TDM or IP-based Ethernet services are too high.  

In an FCC filing, the telco said that these charges create a number of problems for both wholesale competitive carriers and businesses that want to migrate to IP-based services.

Such practices could impair competition because a business customer is more likely to cancel their order, a factor that could "cause a competitive carrier to lose existing and new retail customers."

Windstream has asked the FCC to confront this issue by issuing either a public notice or through a declaratory ruling.

"Windstream noted that the Commission has statutory authority to regulate special construction charges both for TDM-based and IP-based special access services, as special construction charges do not fall within any of the grants of forbearance with respect to regulation of specific packet-based special access services," Windstream said in a FCC filing.

The service provider cited COMPTEL's proposed policy principles regarding special access construction costs.

In its May 27, 2015, ex parte filing, COMPTEL said that the FCC found that charges for facilities construction can create a source of discrimination and a way to attempt to get out of providing the "basic common carrier responsibility" for "planning and investing in facilities" when responding to requests for wholesale services.

One of COMPTEL's key principles is that an ILEC like AT&T or Verizon can't charge a CLEC for a second fiber strand if the provider has already built out fiber into a new business customer's building. This situation would include areas where an ILEC has fiber installed in a building, but that fiber's OLT isn't connected to the port to support a customer's Ethernet request, for example.

"Permitting otherwise would allow the ILEC to block competitors' entry in a building by requiring them to pay for unnecessary, redundant network facilities -- resulting in loss of competitive choice for retail customers in the building," Windstream said. "To the extent new electronics must be added at either the Central Office or on the customer's premises, or additional intra-building cabling must be installed, that work may be subject to special construction charges if the next condition is satisfied."

While it continues to rely on special access circuits to fulfill business service requests, Windstream is looking to reduce $1 billion in access costs it pays on wholesale access to deliver services to its multisite business customers. Initially, it will install fiber into more buildings within five markets this year with plans to expand that into more throughout next year.

For more:
- see this FCC filing (PDF)

Related articles:
Verizon joins ILEC chorus against special access, saying Ethernet services should not be regulated
Windstream says FCC's mobile broadband testing should mirror wireline broadband
Windstream's Thomas: Wi-Fi, lower cost STBs simplify IPTV installation costs
Sprint, Windstream, industry groups applaud public availability of special access data

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