Today, Chairman Tom Wheeler of the Federal Communications Commission reaffirmed the need for increased competition in the telecommunications marketplace during a speech at COMPTEL PLUS, the Competitive Communications Association’s Fall conference in Dallas, Texas. In his speech, Chairman Wheeler focused on the issues of special access, VoIP interconnection, copper retirement and other network transition issues.
Good news, the FCC has decides to one again reboot its seven year old proceeding on “special access.” Given that I have been flogging the FCC since 2006 to do something about this, with occasional reminders since then, I am obviously pleased. For those new to this, “special access” is the rate businesses and competitors to telcos pay to telcos for wholesale access to their telecommunications capacity. When you place a call over your Sprint or Cricket cell phone, the call goes to the tower.
U.S. Dist. Judge Ellen Huvelle made it clear yesterday she will be a strict traffic cop for the Justice Department's (DoJ) challenge to AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile. The trial will start next Feb. 13, splitting the difference between AT&T, which wanted a January start, and DoJ, which wanted March.
Regardless of how the Justice Department's case comes out, however, one valuable lesson has already become clear. This country is only one deal away, two at most, of seeing the emergence of a new-age telecommunications industrial trust with power not seen since the old Bell System was broken up.
The following statement is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:
“We are pleased that the FCC is moving ahead with a targeted data request to find the facts from a very distorted special access market that is overcharging business customers by an estimated $10 billion. The nature of the request encourages us to believe that the FCC is closing in on the key issues, and will be able to propose needed changes to promote competition and lower prices sooner rather than later. We note that while the request is voluntary at this point, the FCC has the power to compel full and honest responses. We expect the FCC will use that authority if it doesn’t receive the information it needs.”
If you are a regular reader of this blog, there is a good chance that you are the type of person who gets questions about choosing cell phones from family, friends, and when you go to cocktail parties. People probably ask for your opinion about this phone or that, or the merits of one carrier vs. another.
In the next few weeks you are probably going to be getting new questions about networks, specifically about 3G vs. 4G. If you really want to blow the mind of the person asking you the question, you can tell that it may not matter.