Press Release

Public Interest Groups Urge Quick FCC Action on Special Access

June 10, 2009 , , ,

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should act quickly to regulate the market for telecommunications services used by big businesses, competitive carriers and Internet Service Providers, three public interest groups told the Commission.

In a June 10 letter, Public Knowledge, the New America Foundation and Media Access Project urged the Commission to turn down a request from the telecommunications industry for yet another data request on the special access markets.

“Letter to FCC Acting Chairman Copps re Special Access for Price Rates for Price Cap Local Exchange Carriers”

“If the Commission does decide it must refresh the record for the second time since beginning this proceeding in 2005, it should issue a short, targeted request enforced by the power to compel full responses from incumbent and competitive providers,” the groups said. In addition, the groups objected to the terms of the data request proposed by the U.S. Telecom Association, because of the non-disclosure conditions attached.

There is good reason to act now, the groups argued, because, “The Commission's decision in 2000 to rely primarily on the market alone to develop competition in special access has resulted in higher prices and market dominance by incumbent providers such as Qwest, AT&T and Verizon. This, in turn, has seriously impeded the development of a competitive market in either broadband or wireless.”

The data provided when the Commission looked at the issue in 2005, and collected since then, shows that, “due to the lack of an effective system to measure and regulate competition in the special access market, incumbents continue to overcharge their competitors for wholesale access to high-speed digital lines. Steep special access rates and unreasonable terms and conditions prevent competitor carriers from building infrastructure and offering services necessary for reasonable competition, driving prices to consumers and delaying the deployment of broadband services in rural areas and the emergence of competing broadband providers even in more densely populated areas,” the letter said.