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ILECs band together to fight FCC special access proposal


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ILECs band together to fight FCC special access proposal

Five telecommunications companies have come together to fightthe FCC's current business data services proposal.

CenturyLink Inc.,Cincinnati Bell Inc.,Consolidated Communications HoldingsInc., FairPoint CommunicationsInc. and Frontier CommunicationsCorp. said July 7 that they have formed the "Invest in Broadbandfor America" coalition to oppose the new regulations being considered for the$45 billion business data services — or special access — market.

Building on an argument previously made in a with the FCC, the coalition said thecommission's business data services proposal is predicated on an "irretrievablyflawed" data framework that does not take into account recent acknowledgementsby four of the largest cable providers that they significantly undercounted thenumber of locations to which they are capable of providing business data services.

"This data proves that cable's footprint is 22 times greaterthan what the FCC is currently using in its analysis," the coalition said onits website.

The coalition would like the FCC to strike the old data fromthe record and collect new figures.

"It is crucial that the FCC get the data right on competitionin the marketplace before flying blindly into a major policy decision," CenturyLinkSenior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations John Jones said in a newsrelease.

As part of a further notice of proposed rulemaking adopted inApril, the FCC has been surveying the current business data services, or specialaccess, marketplace, collecting information on the location of current infrastructureand which marketplaces are more competitive than others. In those marketplaces wherecompetition is healthy, the FCC has asked for comments on a set of deregulatorymeasures that allow the commission to maintain minimal and reasonable oversight.

For noncompetitive markets, the FCC is looking to implement atailored set of rules to safeguard customers, including the use of price regulationand the prohibition of certain tying arrangements that could harm competition. Thedata in question impacts which markets are deemed to be competitive or noncompetitive.

The coalition also objected to the FCC's proposed price regulations,which would discourage special access tariffs.

"If infrastructure providers are forced to cut their ratesat the behest of this imprudent plan, they will be forced to cut hundreds of millionsin future investment needed to build and upgrade network facilities, eliminatingAmerican jobs," the coalition said on its site.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said new regulations are neededfor the special access market because the current regulatory framework is "badly,badly out of date." He noted the commission's current methods for measuringcompetition in the market are "so old-fashioned that the commission actuallystopped using its own test — four years ago."