Special Access Doublespeak

AT&T Public Policy Blog By Frank Simone

I’m often struck by the doublespeak that takes place in DC and, particularly, at the FCC when companies come to the agency to argue that the Commission should regulate their competitors. The Special Access proceeding at the Commission is one of those special dockets that is a real breeding ground for what I like to call “both sides of our mouth” (BSOM) advocacy. Whether it’s Verizon calling to regulate its cable competitors, BT arguing for lower special access rates than it charges its competitors in England, or Sprint-progeny Windstream arguing to re-regulate everyone’s retail rates but their own, this proceeding is a showcase for that special brand of BSOM advocacy.

But one company truly rises above the rest when it comes to saying one thing to the FCC and another to investors – Sprint. Not even two months ago, Sprint came to the FCC and argued that it has no choice but to purchase business broadband services from incumbent carriers because only they provide those connections for the vast majority of buildings with business data service (BDS) demand in the country.

Imagine my surprise then when I saw a recent Fierce Telecom article on Sprint’s Ethernet strategy. Once again, a Sprint executive’s candid statements reveal the reality that betrays their FCC advocacy. In the article, Sprint stated that cable business data services, specifically Ethernet over DOCSIS, will provide them with a competitive alternative to existing special access services and fill out an Ethernet footprint that covers “95 percent of the country.” Yet at the Commission, Sprint continues to discredit cable DOCSIS services as an alternative to incumbent carrier special access services.

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