CenturyLink recently filed a petition with the FCC requesting forbearance from dominant carrier regulations and the Computer Inquiry tariffing requirements for its enterprise broadband services (“Petition”). Specifically, CenturyLink seeks forbearance from compliance with the dominant carrier tariff filing and price cap regulations, dominant carrier discontinuance and transfer of control requirements as well as the Computer Inquiry tariffing obligations for its enterprise broadband services including Ethernet Transport, Ethernet Virtual Private Line, Local Transport - Synchronous Optical Channel, Customer Connect, Frame Relay Access Service, Asynchronous Transfer Mode Cell Relay Access Service, and Video Frame Services, as well as the Ethernet Virtual Private Link and 270 Mbps Digital Transport Service provided by legacy Embarq.
CenturyLink argues that the requested forbearance will allow it to obtain more streamlined agreements with customers and will further Commission goals to reduce outdated regulations and implement the National Broadband Plan. CenturyLink also asserts that since the requested forbearance already has been granted to AT&T, ACS of Anchorage, Embarq, Frontier and Qwest, CenturyLink remains the lone provider of enterprise broadband services subject to these various regulations - a competitive disadvantage that negatively impacts its customers.
CenturyLink argues that its forbearance request is suitable under any reasonable measures and provides the following analysis of the product and geographic markets for enterprise broadband services and competitive analysis.
Finally, CenturyLink asserts that its forbearance request meets the three statutory requirements. First, the existing regulations are not necessary to ensure the provision of enterprise broadband services are offered in a just and reasonable manner because enterprise broadband service customers exert bargaining power and that the burdens of these regulations outweigh any potential benefit. Second, the existing dominant carriers regulations are not necessary to protect consumers; rather, keeping such regulations will harm consumers who would benefit from the ability to enter agreements with uniform rates, terms and conditions. Third, the Petition is in the public interest because if granted, it will facilitate investment, eliminate outdated and burdensome regulations and enhance competition.
The FCC has issued a public notice requesting comments on the Petition. Comments are due by April 5, 2012 and reply comments are due April 20, 2012.
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This article was originally published by Bingham McCutchen LLP.