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FCC to Examine Telecom's Special Access Details

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FCC to Examine Telecom's Special Access Details

August 21, 2014

  By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The business segment has always been an area of high revenue for telecommunications providers as the opportunity for continued growth is always at play. Now, rates by which telecommunications providers sell high-capacity voice and data connections to businesses are about to come under review. Regulators in the U.S. are set to review these special access lines, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)).

For a number of businesses, special access lines are a vital part of their communications strategy as they allow them to transmit large volumes of data very quickly. For example, banks use these lines to connect to ATM machines. Large carriers have found these lines to be very lucrative and smaller carriers argue that the market overall is not competitive. They must have made enough noise to get the attention of the Office of Management and Budget.

According to a recent Fox Business report, the agency will begin collecting information from special access connection purchasers and providers, focusing on terms and conditions, as well as rates. From there, the FCC will determine whether or not the industry is actually competitive or if it needs additional regulation. By the end of this year, the FCC expects to begin collecting 2013 information.

Tom Wheeler (News - Alert), chairman of the FCC, shared with Fox Business that the agency plans to move forward with its data collection and analysis based on fact, expecting to better understand the competition in this marketplace. The agency also wants a better grasp on the impact on consumers as they pursue the FCC’s statutory mandate to ensure special access services are provided at rates and terms and conditions that are considered to be reasonable.

In cases like these, the agency has to determine whether or not an investigation into current practices will generate the desired benefits to offset any burdens taken on in the process. The Office of Management and Budget assesses such requests to determine whether or not the process warranted execution and if outcomes would produce beneficial information or simply create negative economic consequences.

For its part, master agent Telarus (News - Alert) is interested in this kind of investigation as the outcome could change its approach to the market. At present, the company focuses on delivering the best solutions to meet customer needs. While this primary focus would remain in place, strategies may have to change if current special access pricing and processes are proven to be improperly regulated and managed. To that end, the outcome will be one we’ll all want to learn. 

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