FCC Moves Ahead On Business Data Services Proposal

BY Heather Greenfield
April 28, 2016

Washington — The FCC approved a proposal to consider new rules for the business broadband marketplace. These business data services, formerly known as “special access,” affect how businesses access the Internet for transactions like credit card processing or ATM withdrawals. The market has been the subject of FCC investigation for a decade. Now the FCC will invite public comment on aspects of its plan to replace fragmented regulations with technology neutral rules and a data driven test to determine if the market is competitive.

Currently business data services is a $40 billion market, which has typically featured anti-competitive terms and conditions known as “lock-up” agreements. Today, the FCC also voted to ban certain incumbent practices that have held back competition. As demand for Internet access increases, these high capacity circuits will continue to be critical as wireless networks transition to 5G.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has advocated for competitive Internet access for more than two decades. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“Technology and Internet demand has evolved during the 10 years the FCC has studied this issue, and we are glad to see they are finally moving forward with better oversight. We appreciate the efforts of Chairman Wheeler and the FCC members supporting this step toward reform today. The FCC’s new approach will help support innovation on the horizon like 5G wireless networks and the Internet of Things.

“This high speed access underpins the services businesses rely on everyday and the demand for this access will only grow. We support the FCC’s order on terms and conditions because no business should be trapped by unreasonable conditions or unfairly high rates just because there is no competitive alternative.

“We are glad to see the FCC vote for this step toward improved regulations to support next generation networks and better prices for businesses and ultimately consumers. While our trade association is typically hesitant about calling for regulation, we recognize that in places where there is little to no competition, like this one, it can be necessary to prevent abuse.”

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