October 22, 2015 — One would think they would learn by now. AT&T and Verizon are, once again, in the sights of the FCC. They are being investigated by the FCC for unfair business practices. Nary has a week gone by when one, or more, of the four major players aren’t under the eye of the FCC for some sort of shady business practice. And this time you can add a couple more – CenturyLink and Frontier Communications. Seems like these guys are just bound and determined to find underhanded ways to do business.
This time it is for alleged unfair business practices. The Wireline Competition Bureau of the FCC is investigating the companies’ contract verbiage to see if it hinders competition, and by proxy, hurting the consumer.
According to the bureau’s filing, “Competitive LECs (Level 3 and XO Communications, are mentioned, and Sprint is on this side as well) allege that incumbent LEC business data services’ tariff pricing plans incorporate a complicated web of all-or-nothing bundling, loyalty and term commitments, complex enforcing penalties, circuit migration rules and other provisions. “They assert that the effect is to lock up substantial proportions of carrier and end-user demand, which locks out competition for such demand, and consequently harms both competition and innovation.”
There are some interesting numbers that go with this. For example, in 2013, a preliminary review, indicated that incumbent LECs received roughly three-quarters of $20 billion in annual revenues from sales of DS1 and DS3 channel terminations. And they received nearly two-thirds of all revenue from TDM sales, according to the filing. Dunno, seems like they have a lot more business than they should have if the playing field were level.
Here is their retort – the investigated telcos say the FCC is being shortsighted. “Although the FCC says that it wants to be a data-driven agency, promote facilities-based competition and incent broadband investment, it just can’t seem to get beyond its telephone-era mindset when it comes to regulating 20th century legacy services.” Geeze that is the best they can come up with? This kind of retort makes it difficult to have any sympathy for them, or think they are being picked on. It is always easy to sling insults when one has no leg to stand on. But, then again when have they ever had a leg to stand on?
Ernest Worthman is the editor of Small Cell magazine