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Lobby representing AT&T, Verizon wants FCC to get rid of line-sharing rules

USTelecom petitioned the FCC​ to throw out rules that let smaller network operators buy access to bigger companies' networks at lower rates.

At&t petition
USTelecom, a lobby group representing telecommunications companies including AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink, wants to kill off 22-year-old wholesale requirements.

A lobby group representing AT&T, Verizon and other telecommunications companies wants the government to stop imposing rules that allow smaller network operators to buy access at lower rates to the networks of companies currently in control. 

In 2005, the Federal Communications Commission killed off several line-sharing requirements. But incumbent telecommunications companies still have to make certain copper-based network elements available through wholesale at regulated prices, Ars Technica reports

Companies including AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink still offer these services, but the USTelecom lobby group, which represents the carriers, petitioned the FCC on Friday to get rid of the wholesale requirements. Those requirements were implemented in 1996. If the petition is granted, telecommunications companies could stop providing the services or increase rates. 

Smaller internet service providers that purchase wholesale access say that getting rid of the requirements could lead to increased rates for their home internet subscribers. They also say that the wholesale rules are necessary for competition. 

"Wholesale access is a critical bridge to fiber construction and infrastructure investment," said Chip Pickering, CEO of trade group Incompas, in a statement. The FCC has fully endorsed a broadband deployment agenda to help bring faster speed, lower cost networks to all Americans, including underserved rural communities. Cutting off competition and eliminating a wholesale market that incentivizes new fiber deployment runs counter to the FCC's goals, and we encourage the Commission to reject the petition."

USTelecom says wholesale requirements don't make sense in today's market.

"When these rules were created, wireline phones still dominated the communications landscape, and wireless, VoIP, and cable telephony were in their infancy," USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter said in a blog post. "And texting, social media, and other non-voice forms of communication were still off on the horizon."  

"But those days are long gone," Spalter continues. "It no longer makes sense to single out a few companies and make them share their networks with their competitors."

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