Reaching the Customer
In order to reach their customers, competitive providers often rely on the incumbent telephone company’s last mile facilities – the portion of the network that is most expensive to build. The ability to lease facilities or purchase services until they have obtained a critical mass of customers to justify building their own network facilities is essential to a competitor’s success in the market. If those facilities and services are not made available on a wholesale basis at reasonable rates, terms and conditions, then competitive choice in the retail market will be limited.
It is critical to ensure competitive access to the incumbent’s last mile loop facilities/services on just and reasonable terms and conditions, regardless of whether the loop is fiber, copper or other type of infrastructure, or if the transmission technology is packet-based, TDM or something else in the future. Access to copper loops should continue to be available for the foreseeable future with the FCC acting to ensure that its copper retirement rules do not allow for the retirement of usable copper, and that when copper is taken out of service, alternative facilities are made available at the same cost and capacity to competitive providers. By doing so, policymakers will be encouraging competition and investment, as competitors build their own networks when there is an economic case to do so.