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FCC order on business line pricing may not fully reregulate

Grant Gross | June 22, 2012
A U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposal to address the price of dedicated telecom and broadband lines for businesses would stop large telecom carriers from seeking new price flexibility but would not scrap the underlying rules that allow price deregulation, said members of a coalition calling for changes in the rules.

"The focus ought to be forward looking, not backwards looking," Quinn said. "We'll spend an enormous amount of time talking about the pricing framework for technology we should be expediting people to move off of."

The FCC proposal comes during a "difficult investment environment for wireline infrastructure," AT&T said in a Tuesday filing to the FCC. About 65 percent of businesses and other organizations now use Ethernet services, AT&T said.

Demand for DS1 and DS3 services are declining at a rate of 20 percent a year, Quinn said.

But many businesses still use DS1 and DS3 lines, said Colleen Boothby, executive director of the Ad Hoc Telecommunications Users Committee, representing several telecom customers. One Ad Hoc member buys 18,000 DS1 lines, she said.

Many businesses buy DS1 and DS3 lines because that's all they need, Boothby said. "That's the service that works," she said. "There's nobody watching movies over that network, and there's nobody gaming over that network."

NoChokePoints members questioned why AT&T is fighting against pricing changes if it sees DS1 and DS3 lines as obsolete technology. "If businesses are moving to Ethernet, then what are they so upset about? " said Maura Corbett, executive director of the coalition.

AT&T is opposed to changes in the pricing rules because the company doesn't want to litigate pricing in dozens of markets, Quinn said. "I don't want to go have to spend millions of dollars on lawyers," he said.


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