Dems want FCC action to make certain broadband services less expensive

May 16, 2012
The Hill’s Hillicon Valley blog

The Federal Communications Commission should “act decisively” to make high capacity broadband service cheaper for businesses and other large customers, a group of Democrats said Wednesday.
In a letter sent Wednesday to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski (D), the Democrats on an Energy and Commerce subpanel ask what the FCC is doing to make sure that rates for dedicated high capacity Internet lines known as “special access” are “just and reasonable” as required by the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

The lawmakers signing the letter are Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), and Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.).

Eshoo and her colleagues note that the market has long been dominated by three incumbent telephone carriers, giving them the ability to “raise prices and impose anticompetitive terms and conditions,” and complain that a 1999 commission order has preserved the situation.

But they also acknowledge the FCC is set to gather new data on special access rates, and note action to reduce them could be beneficial. Eshoo and her colleagues encourage Genachowski to “analyze this data expeditiously and act decisively to reduce rates and reform anticompetitive contracts.”

“Reducing prices to a just and reasonable level will generate billions of dollars in cost savings for companies across the country, increasing innovation and investment, enhancing rural broadband deployment, and improving wireless coverage,” they said.