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FCC Opens Probe Into ‘Special Access’ Market

The investigation centers around what’s known as special access, which is the bulk data connections businesses buy to connect things like retail outlets, ATM machines and cell towers.

AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink and Frontier dominate the special access market because they effectively control the wires that were built by the legacy AT&T monopoly, which was broken up by the government in 1984. The FCC estimates the size of the market under investigation is roughly $20 billion.

The smaller companies accuse the carriers of locking up the market by forcing them to sign volume commitments and by charging monopoly prices and early termination fees. Level 3, for instance, says...