News - March 23, 2020
INCOMPAS to FCC: Now is Not the Time to End the Bridge 2 Broadband
WASHINGTON, DC (March 23, 2020) -- INCOMPAS, the internet and competitive networks association, represents small, local broadband providers and is warning the FCC that competitive broadband service will be cut off and prices will skyrocket if the Commission moves forward with its controversial proposal to end competition laws. Ending the Bridge2 Broadband will impact millions of families, small businesses, schools and hospitals that depend on competitive service for faster speeds, better service and lower prices.
In reply comments filed at the FCC (in the Unbundling and Resale proceeding), INCOMPAS highlighted the detailed evidence and real world harms its members have submitted to the FCC showing that the NPRM’s proposals will harm Americans who need broadband connectivity now more than ever. These harms include massive broadband price hikes, 911 disruptions, 5G build out delays, and the elimination of the only internet service available in many rural communities from Maine to California.
“With so much dislocation and uncertainty, now is simply not the time to end the Bridge 2 Broadband. Every second the FCC’s proposal hangs over the heads of America’s fiber builders we are less safe, less prepared and not looking to the future,” said Chip Pickering CEO of INCOMPAS. “Now more than ever, America needs our internet services delivering fast connectivity and offering affordable service to help families, educators, and medical professionals who are working under rapidly changing circumstances.”
The INCOMPAS filing lists harms to investment, public safety, and underserved Americans. It also pushes back on big telecom’s claims that one or two broadband providers is enough, pointing out the Department of Justice’s recent action on the T-Mobile/Sprint merger to preserve at least four providers in the mobile broadband marketplace. It questions the Commission’s use of data from flawed maps to justify this proceeding and warns of impacts on health care facilities.
“The FCC simply cannot justify ending competition laws by using bad data from broken broadband maps they know to be deeply flawed,” Pickering added. “Pulling the rug out from under competitive builders, who are the leaders in deploying new, faster fiber networks will chill investment needed for wired and 5G networks.”
The INCOMPAS filing also takes issue with the FCC’s “rural” exemption criteria, noting that it does not match thresholds set forth in the 2018 Farm Bill. It warns that families and small businesses in rural America—who depend on small, local providers for their only access to the internet—will be cut off and left behind.
*To read a copy of the INCOMPAS reply comments, click here.
Highlights from the INCOMPAS reply comments include:
- Rural Risks: A number of INCOMPAS members entered rural markets to offer broadband for the first time in states like Kansas, Maine, Missouri, California, Oregon, and Texas, among others. In fact, smaller local fiber builder IdeaTek connected several small towns in Kansas after AT&T and cable refused requests by community leaders to build new networks and provide broadband. Only after IdeaTek entered the market did big telecom providers agree to offer service.
- Redundancy for Hospitals: Mammoth Networks provides the only redundant network service to four hospitals in Wyoming. If health care networks goes down without back ups in place doctors, nurses and patients are at risk.
- Public Safety: Provider GWI in Maine uses the Bridge 2 Broadband to serve 444 community anchor institutions, including hospitals, public safety institutions, emergency services, and municipal governments.
- Price Hikes: Socket, which expanded its fiber network by 20% in Missouri in 2019, would have invested more had it not been for monopoly rate hikes stemming from changes to BDS market. Socket experienced rate increases of 259% for a BDS connection to a 911 Selective Router, with the dedicated transport mileage rate element alone increasing 421%.
Allstream filed a declaration during the reply comment round showing the significant rate increases on BDS since the FCC removed price caps on the large incumbents. In one category of connectivity, Allstream has experienced an 86% to 221% price increase.
- 5G Deployment: Because of uncertainty created by the FCC NPRM, Mammoth Networks could not bid for certain fiber projects including a 5G tower fiber build bid for Dish’s new mobile wireless network. Other INCOMPAS members like Digital West, IdeaTek, and Socket also have told the FCC that their fiber deployment plans are on hold pending the NPRM.
- Driving Others to Invest: Using the Bridge 2 Broadband, Digital West brought fiber to Santa Barbara and rural Central Coast communities in California. The cable company was then forced to respond by upgrading services.
- Dark Fiber: Many competitive providers including Allstream have invested in unused dark fiber to bring service to several towns, both urban and rural. Cutting off access to dark fiber will divert billions in new fiber investment to duplicate fiber that is already working.
- Emergency Backup: Granite Telecom, which connects hundreds of the nation’s top business retailers, notes that TDM services offer the only reliable backup after storms.
- Faster Speeds, Lower Prices: PC Magazine ranked Sonic the fastest ISP in America. Their gigabit speed service in California was built using the Bridge 2 Broadband and costs consumers just $40 dollars a month.
INCOMPAS, the internet and competitive networks association, is the leading trade group advocating for competition policy across all networks. INCOMPAS represents Internet, streaming, communications and technology companies large and small, advocating for laws and policies that promote competition, innovation and economic development. Learn more at www.incompas.org or follow us on Twitter: @INCOMPAS @ChipPickering