Special Access Gets Special Attention in D.C.

Stakeholders weigh in on FCC's proposed remake

The FCC's vote to remake the framework for regulating business broadband access service drew a host of commenters on both side of the issue, which divided the FCC along party lines once again.

RELATED:Divided FCC Proposes Special Access Remake

“Cable’s entry into the market for business data services over the last few years has resulted in improved services and lower prices for businesses all across America," said the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. "It is disappointing that [FCC] chairman [Tom] Wheeler is responding to this unquestionably positive development by asking the commission to consider imposing onerous new rate regulation on these competitive services."

Wheeler has said that the proposal is basically an effort to promote competition and level the playing field, and a "bunch of questions" -- some in the form of proposals -- about how to do that.

The NCTA said it is confident the answers to those questions "will expose the obvious harm to investment created by such an approach and that the commission will reject the chairman’s proposal to abandon four decades of bipartisan pro-competitive policy.” The organization also laid into the proposal in a blog before the Thursday (April 28) vote at the FCC's public meeting.

Taking the opposite position, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said: “After many years of hard work, the FCC has taken an important step forward today by advancing a proposal to update the special-access regime. Now, businesses, competitive carriers, wireless service providers and others who rely on it can take full advantage of robust and competitive broadband services.”

Among those are Sprint, a fan of the FCC proposal.

"Today the [FCC] took a significant step in reforming the long broken market for business data services," Sprint said. "These services are the foundation of the broadband economy, providing connectivity for everything from ATMs and credit card machines, to cell phone towers and anchor institutions like schools, libraries and healthcare facilities.

"Driven by the largest market data collection in the FCC’s history, today’s action establishes a basis for real reform," the company added. "Importantly, the FCC formally recognized what competitive carriers have long experienced, that large incumbents exercise overwhelming market power and impose unreasonable rates, terms and conditions over a critical part of our nation’s networks. In laying out a framework for reform, the FCC sets the stage for greater broadband competition that will ultimately benefit all consumers."

COMPETIFY, a group pushing for more competition in the business broadband market said the FCC had "confirmed its diagnosis of the critical market for dedicated high-speed ‘business data services,’ finding significant market power over these essential broadband inputs, with chronic symptoms extending throughout the broadband economy."

COMPETIFY partners include INCOMPAS, Level 3, Public Knowledge, BT and the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

In a separate statement, BT called it a major step forward in reforming a "broken" market.