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Forced-access regulation refers to any regulation put into place by the state forcing private communication carriers to allow its competitors to use their networks for their own business purposes. The common justification put forth for forced-access is that doing so promotes competition, because it is too costly for smaller firms to build a new network.
In the United States, Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which forced local telephone companies to share their lines with competitors at regulated rates if "the failure to provide access to such network elements would impair the ability of the telecommunications carrier seeking access to provide the services that it seeks to offer." (Section 251(3)(2)(B)) Whether forced-access is conducive to a competitive environment and/or low prices is a matter of debate among economists.
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