SOURCE: NoChokePoints Coalition

NoChokePoints Coalition

June 22, 2009 10:00 ET

NoChokePoints Coalition Sites Special Access Reform as a Must for Broadband Economy

Public Interest Groups, Education Organizations, Competitive Broadband Providers and Customer Groups Launch Coalition to Fix Failed High-Capacity Broadband Market

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - June 22, 2009) - A broad-based group of organizations and companies representing critical sectors of the broadband economy, from health care to education to retail to manufacturing, today announced the formation of the NoChokePoints coalition. The goal of the group is to stop the abuse of market power by huge phone companies like AT&T and Verizon in the provision of high-capacity broadband services, also known as "special access."

Countless industries and organizations, and hundreds of millions of customers across the country, depend on this critical broadband input, including providers of other broadband services. Enabling end users and broadband providers to obtain special access at a reasonable price is not only critical to broadband deployment, but also to spurring the investment and innovation the U.S. economy so desperately needs.

"Releasing the broadband economy from the chokehold these huge phone companies have on the special access market will be a catalyst for innovation and investment in the broadband marketplace, something we desperately need," said Maura Corbett, spokeswoman for the NoChokePoints coalition. "Every time you send an email, withdraw money from an ATM, or use your wireless phone, your information travels on these high-capacity lines. Excessive pricing and other market abuses by these companies have long been an issue of concern at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Nearly five years ago, after many complaints by broadband customers in several FCC proceedings, the Commission began a review of the high-capacity broadband market to determine the changes needed to ensure reasonable prices. Despite ample evidence of excessive pricing, the Commission inexplicably has yet to take any action."

"The Obama administration, Congress, and the FCC repeatedly emphasize the importance of broadband to our economic recovery and, frankly, it defies explanation that we are still fighting this market abuse," Corbett continued. "Huge companies like Verizon and AT&T control the broadband lines of almost every business in the United States. The virtually unchallenged, exclusive control of these lines costs businesses and consumers more than $10 billion annually and generates a profit margin of more than 100 percent for the controlling phone companies, according to their own data provided to the FCC. This hidden broadband tax results in enormous losses for consumers and the economy, and this country cannot afford it; especially now."

NoChokePoints cited four central principles of its campaign to reform the special access market: (1) the special access market is broken; (2) the outgoing Federal Communications Commission made a bad situation worse by failing to address obvious market abuse by these huge phone companies; (3) this unchecked market control continues to slow broadband deployment, compromise innovation and harm our national information economy; and (4) the resulting market failure must be corrected now.

About the NoChokePoints coalition:

The NoChokePoints coalition represents constituents, members, enterprise customers, competitive broadband providers and communities that rely on high-capacity "special access" lines. Access to a robust and competitive market for high-capacity broadband with reasonable prices and availability is the key to lasting economic growth, broadband deployment and job creation. Broadband access is a central part of the long-term agendas of the Obama administration, United States Congress, and the Federal Communication Commission. It is essential to the health of our information economy. To learn more about the coalition and how special access affects us all, please visit www.NoChokePoints.org.