The Internet. It’s just a series of tubes. Kendrick Erickson The Federal Communications Commission yesterday halted a plan by AT&T to raise prices for “special access” customers, a potential rate hike that could ultimately hit the wallets of businesses and cell phone users.

AT&T wanted to make the rate increase effective today, but the FCC suspended it for five months while it investigates further, noting that there is widespread opposition. “There are substantial questions regarding the lawfulness of AT&T’s tariff revisions that require further investigation,” the FCC said.

This move does not prevent the price increase in perpetuity but makes it possible that the FCC could at least soften the blow a bit. What is special access? It’s like the Internet equivalent of a barrel of oil, the price AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink charge other businesses for Internet bandwidth. Special access customers include the likes of Sprint and T-Mobile, who rely on their rivals for bandwidth. Special access rates can thus indirectly raise the prices paid by cell phone users, even those who aren’t directly customers of AT&T. 2     

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