The FCC may be moving away from the regulatory flexibility that has governed “special access”—high-speed circuits leased by a variety of customers and carriers—for over a decade. Julius Genachowski, the Chairman of the FCC, has reportedly circulated an order which would effectively reverse the FCC’s prior pattern of deregulation in the special access market. The order “offers a clear path to reform” by identifying steps to modify special access rules. Among other things, the order “include[s] a process to collect necessary data, which has thus far been insufficient” and also calls for suspension of all currently pending petitions for pricing flexibility until after a determination can be made concerning the state of competition in the special access market.
According to an FCC official, “There is a widespread agreement that the existing framework is broken, which is why [the FCC] propose[s] to temporarily suspend consideration of pricing flexibility petitions pending development of a new framework.” Josh Long, "FCC Chairman Moves Forward on Special Access," BILLING & OSS WORLD, June 5, 2012, available at http://www.billingworld.com/news/2012/06/fcc-chairman-moves-forward-on-special-access.aspx.
FCC officials argue that the special access reforms are “aim[ed] to protect competition; ensure access to robust, affordable broadband for small business, mobile providers, and others; and eliminate regulations where evidence of competition exists.” Id.
The order would not set a timeline for the implementation of changes and is “being seen as a way to kick off the next stage of special access reform.”