Thursday, November 19, 2009

CLECs Bitching About UNE

As we read here in Xchange mag, 8 CLEC's have filed a petition for expedited rulemaking with the FCC over 271 network access. When the RBOC's were granted 272 relief - allowed to offer LD and Inter-LATA services - they had to agree to certain LATA based access to their network. This access has been eroding steadily since the BOC's gained LD Relief. These 8 CLEC's - 360networks, Broadview Networks, Cbeyond, Covad, NuVox, PAETEC, Sprint, tw telecom - are claiming that this reduced access is hurting the economy, competition, broadband usage, etc. (It's really just hurting their financials).

As access rates increase, profits shrink, especially when you are PAETEC*, Nuvox, Covad and Cbeyond - no network to speak of, everything is Type II, and your access rates to UNE (network elements like copper) are increasing at the same time that pricing pressure is causing you to keep your prices low. This equals no margin and falling stock prices (once the stockholders find out).

If you are a CLEC paying $25 per copper pair and then have to pay $50 per pair, well, you better have some margin in that sale. (You do it you aren't selling POTS service or just a DSL/VoIP single line bundle.)

Broadview, Sprint, 360, and TWT all have fiber, but inter-connection rates are also an issue as is Type II last mile access to your customer.

I like how the petition uses the fact that the USA is 15th in broadband in the world. Nice pull at the political hot potato.

The basic argument is that 272 relief did not mean no-access to competitors -- the network had to be open to get LD and should have to have remained open in order to keep LD. (On this I agree).

In FCC Docket # 05-25, the FCC is again asking for comments on the Notice of Rulemaking on Special Access Rates, which ties into the 271/272 relief debate. Special Access circuits should not be higher than retail rates. Period. Comments are welcome on this until Dec. 18, 2009.

* Please note that PAETEC has the old McLeodUSA fiber network in the midwest - like in Omaha where it is about useless since UNE rates there went up 72% after Qwest received forbearance there.

I will say that mainly this is all COMPTEL is good for: FCC Petitions. It has not done much to advance the CLEC Industry. Where's the ENUM database? The SIP Exchange (especially for HD Voice)? The Fax over IP Solution? The database of lit buildings and fiber that would allow CLEC's to buy from each other. Are MSO's like Cox and Comcast members or better yet vendors? If all you have is some posturing at the FCC, it's no wonder competition is so wimpy.

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