For as long as anyone can remember, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has referred to the provision of the dedicated telecoms lines that enable retailers, financial institutions, mobile network operators, and other customers to move large amounts of data as ‘special access’ service. And, for as long as anyone can remember, the FCC has regulated the provision of special access by the historic monopoly providers – the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) – with a hodgepodge of rules. These rules classified the ILECs as dominant carriers, required them to file tariffs, and generally assessed the lawfulness of filed rates based on a price cap methodology.
Over time, however, the FCC adopted so many exceptions that even the agency concedes that the rules “now have limited application”.1 At the same time, new entrants into the market, such as cable system operators, have been largely unregulated.
The FCC has now proposed not only to rename special access services as ‘business data services’ (BDS), but also to fundamentally alter the existing regulatory regime applicable to this $45 billion market.
The US FCC is proposing a new name and a new regulatory framework for ‘special access’ services, as JONATHAN JACOB NADLER explains.
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