Court upholds FCC decision on special access fees

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided on Friday to uphold a 2007 FCC decision in which the commission eliminated price caps on fees that telcos such as AT&T and Verizon charge others to access their lines.

The ruling is blow to operators such as Sprint Nextel, U.S. Cellular and T-Mobile USA, which don't have wireline divisions and must pay competitors such as AT&T and Verizon fees to use their landlines to backhaul wireless traffic from the cell site to the switch. The ruling from the court clearly signals that decisions on "special access" fees are in the hands of the FCC.

Carriers such as Sprint T-Mobile and others, along with a coalition called No Choke Points (whose members include Clearwire and small independent LECs such as Covad Communications), claim the interconnection fees are a big barrier to broadband access, and have asked the FCC to review the matter.

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