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AT&T Could Grandfather Special Access Plans

Friday, January 17, 2014

AT&T withdrew its request to change the special access pricing plans it offers to competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs), one month after the FCC opened an investigation.

The FCC on December 6, 2013 suspended for five months the incumbent carrier’s pricing flexibility tariff revisions, while the agency investigated its lawfulness.

AT&T’s initial filing drew much criticism from CLECs. Carriers argued that AT&T’s decision to stop offering discount plans longer than 36 months would substantially increase service costs and hurt competition.

In a meeting with FCC staff, AT&T indicated it might grandfather certain long term plans, allowing providers to receive today’s discounts up to a date closer to the company’s 2020 deadline to transition customers to an internet protocol (IP) network.

The incumbent carrier plans to re-file another tariff proposal soon.


FCC Releases Special Access Data Collection Order

Friday, December 21, 2012

As promised, the FCC this week released a mandatory data collection order in its special access for price cap LECs proceeding, four months after temporarily suspending any new grants of pricing flexibility.

The Commission is undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of competition in the special access marketplace, after determining that current rules are not working as intended.

The Commission will collect two years’ worth of data for market structure, price and demand; specifically, 2010 and 2012 pricing data on a monthly basis. All providers and purchasers of special access service are required to submit this data, with some exceptions.

Comments are also being sought on any new rules that would be crafted as a result of this market analysis. Click here to view a copy of the order.

Special access refers to the dedicated wireline service that provides physical voice and data connections between an interexchange carrier (IXC) and its customer locations. These services give mobile providers a way to link cell towers to wireline networks, supplies Internet access to small businesses and fulfills communication infrastructure needs for banks, along with medical, school and government institutions.

These lines are typically owned by the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC), which leases the lines to the IXC at regulated, preset prices. However, the 1999 Pricing Flexibility Order allows an ILEC to negotiate unregulated prices through a contract tariff, if it demonstrates the existence of competition in the marketplace.