NCTA says FCC 'special access' proposal will result in 'onerous new rate regulation,' 'obvious harm'

Once again finding itself at odds with former cable-industry lobbyist and current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the NCTA blasted a divided FCC vote this morning to propose new regulations for business broadband. 

"Cable's entry into the market for business data services over the last few years has resulted in improved services and lower prices for businesses all across America," the National Cable Telecommunications Association said in a statement released today. "It is disappointing that Chairman Wheeler is responding to this unquestionably positive development by asking the Commission to consider imposing onerous new rate regulation on these competitive services.  We are confident that this proceeding will expose the obvious harm to investment created by such an approach and that the Commission will reject the Chairman's proposal to abandon four decades of bipartisan pro-competitive policy."

On Wednesday, on the eve of the FCC's vote, the NCTA also said in a blog post, "Chairman Wheeler has attempted to defend this proposal by suggesting that the marketplace for these services is a failure and that an entirely new set of technology-neutral rules is needed. Such a theory cannot be reconciled with the fact that cable operators have entered the market and invested billions in new facilities to bring better services and lower prices to millions of businesses. That is the definition of an increasingly competitive marketplace, not a failing one."

For the uninitiated, so-called "special access" services are large pipes, mostly copper, that connect business to the Internet. The FCC has mulled regulating this sector for years. 

These special access pipes are mostly controlled by AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ). With cable companies controlling a combined share of less than 10 percent of this market, Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) President and CEO Tom Rutledge told investors this morning, "It seems premature to think about regulating such a new entrant into the marketplace."

For more:
- read this NCTA blog post

Related articles:
Charter set to close on new company called 'Charter,' full transition will run through 2018
FCC eyes special access regulation, draws criticism from broadband supporters
AT&T to FCC: There are plenty of alternative choices for special access services

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