CenturyLink supports AT&T’s challenge of FCC’s special access order, but wants to review final order

CenturyLink has been an outspoken critic of the FCC’s review of the special access order, but the telco's chief financial officer says they won’t know the full impact until the regulator releases the order.

Stewart Ewing, CFO of CenturyLink, told investors during the Bank of America 2016 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference it is too early to estimate the order’s impact.  

“The proposal made by FCC is really hard to put a number on at this point,” Ewing said. “It depends on whether they pull in retail and we’re reading it as if it applies to retail and wholesale, but we’ll have to see when the order comes out and tell then after we get a chance to read and understand the order.”

Ewing added that it could range between something “that’s material or immaterial so it’s hard to say.”

Echoing a similar tone met by fellow telcos AT&T and Frontier, Ewing said that the FCC’s assessment of the business data services (BDS) market is flawed, pointing out that there’s an abundance of competition in the market.

While CenturyLink supports AT&T's position of challenging the FCC's special access order, the telco wants to review what is included before taking a stance. “We’re supportive but we’ll wait and see what comes out and we’ll make a decision at that point,” Ewing said.

In particular, cable operators have a large stake in the BDS market, CenturyLink says.

A series of updated filings made by Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox and Time Warner Cable in June noted that there are 22 times more Ethernet-capable locations than the data on which the FCC based its May 2 further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM).

Following that revelation, CenturyLink filed a motion to strike what it says is an "irretrievably flawed" data framework in the FCC's recent business data services (BDS) proposal, saying that cable operators understated their capabilities to serve the Ethernet services market.

“We believe the FCC is going down the wrong path and there’s significant competition in the BDS market and the FCC is using three-year old data that the cable companies say is not accurate reflection of the state of the markets today,” Ewing said. “We’ll have to see.”

For more:
- listen to the webcast (reg. req.)

Related articles:
CenturyLink: Cable operators have 22 times more Ethernet-capable locations than BDS data lists
CenturyLink sounds off on special access debate, wants cable operators included as competition