At the INCOMPAS Policy Summit in Maryland yesterday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he was “in significant accord” with proposed business data services regulations that had been previously suggested by INCOMPAS and Verizon. In a letter to the Commission last week, INCOMPAS/Verizon proposed new rules for the ways business buy access to dedicated network connections.
“We agree that we need a new technology-neutral model – one that is legally sustainable, that recognizes the changes in the marketplace over the last 10 years, that is flexible enough to accommodate new technology and new competitive circumstances going forward, and that will encourage the transition from legacy services to IP and more advanced communication services,” Verizon’s Kathleen Grillo and INCOMPAS’ Chip Pickering say in the letter.
Public Knowledge Government Affairs Counsel Phillip Berenbroick was quick to get behind Verizon and INCOMPAS, saying that the framework would “ensure that where the market for special access services is not competitive, the FCC would step in and ensure that business customers, wholesale providers, and ultimately, consumers, aren’t forced to pay unjustifiable or unreasonable special access rates.”
“Importantly, the framework would recognize that markets with two or fewer special access providers would have inadequate price competition,” Berenbroick adds.
Chairman Wheeler highlighted his ideas around the topic in a blog on Friday. These include tailoring regulations in ways he says will be technologically neutral and help improve competition. He also proposed that tariffing of BDS be ended.
At the INCOMPAS Summit yesterday, Wheeler further expounded: “My own views are in significant accord with your letter. And that’s not a surprise, because finding common ground should start with common sense, and I believe the principles I am supporting are firmly based in the realities of the marketplace.”
No surprise, but not everyone is in harmony on the subject. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association put out a statement last week saying that the proposal made by INCOMPAS/Verizon “seem at odds with sound economics and a policy of promoting market-driven, facilities-based competition.”
“Cable operators are new entrants in the business services market, and are investing heavily in building their own facilities to serve business customers,” NCTA says. “They are providing precisely the type of facilities-based competition that the Chairman has praised.”
The cable trade association further calls on the FCC to reject any regulatory ideas that would “impose new, onerous regulations on an industry that is stepping up to offer meaningful choices to business customers.”
The American Cable Association also released a statement last week suggesting that INCOMPAS/Verizon’s proposals could undo 35 years of regulatory precedent that facilitated entry by facilities-based competitors.
“This is a private agreement between a dominant provider (Verizon) and providers who have chosen not to build their own facilities that proposes to subject new, facilities-based entrants to regulation in their provision of dedicated services,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka, says. “That will impose costs on these new entrants — many of whom are small providers that have no experience with common carrier rate regulation — slowing their entry and their efforts to bring competition and innovative services to market.”
“That is clearly not in the public interest, and ACA intends to oppose this private deal,” Polka concludes.
The FCC’s agenda lists April 28 as the date it will vote on a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking about business data services.
Filed Under: Industry regulations