(credit: Pictures of Money)

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday began an investigation into the prices AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and Frontier charge businesses for certain data services.

So-called “special access” service (primarily delivered over copper) is purchased by wireless carriers including Sprint, which has accused the sellers of anticompetitive pricing and conditions. Special access connections are also used by “small businesses, government offices, hospitals, medical offices, schools, libraries, ATMs, and credit card readers,” the FCC has noted.

The order for an investigation concerns only special access lines that use older time-division multiplexing (TDM) technology that is still subject to price regulation and tariff requirements, unlike consumer broadband services and newer business offerings. This covers a market of more than $20 billion per year.

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