For years the FCC has said that it does not have adequate data to evaluate competition and infrastructure investment in the special access market, and as pointed out by Commissioner Robert McDowell, it has ignored “calls from Members of Congress, commissioners, industry and civil society for a comprehensive data collection and analysis in the course of contemplating a change in special access rules” for more than five years. Yet the Commission has announced that it will prematurely proceed with the immediate suspension of the thirteen-year-old deregulation of special access. Thankfully, the FCC has acknowledged that having data from all providers is essential to any future competitive analysis.
Burning money, time and manpower to regulate an outdated technology is fruitless. America’s future depends on the transition away from special access service to faster next-generation IP networks that will strengthen the economy, amp up U.S. global competitiveness, and improve consumers’ experience. Commissioner Ajit Pai got it right when he said that ‘we should bring this decade-old proceeding to a close soon so that special-access providers and purchasers will have the regulatory certainty they need to carry out their businesses and invest in high-capacity infrastructure.’ Today’s special access order puts the FCC on a regulatory path to nowhere.