Compromise and Commitment to a Broadband Connected Future
By Chip Pickering and Jonathan Spalter
Without question, this is a historic moment for the broadband industry. Networks unite our nation and hold together our economy. They are our link to family and friends, and the future of education, healthcare and job recovery.
Together, we represent the builders and innovators who are delivering the promise of internet connectivity, and have delivered for our nation during unprecedented times.
INCOMPAS has been the voice for competitive providers for over two decades, representing a variety of smaller carriers who deploy fiber, broadband and voice services to homes and businesses of all sizes in local communities and at multiple locations nationwide.
USTelecom represents global and local broadband providers and technology innovators, committed to connecting the world through the power and promise of 21st century broadband internet.
While our members compete in the marketplace, we understand that at this time, in this moment, we must come together to ensure the future of our shared communications networks remain strong, resilient and ready for the future.
First, both our associations are calling on Congress to take swift action on connectivity funding proposals to ensure Americans have access to broadband. Both the House and Senate have put forward proposals to spur deployment and help families and businesses impacted by COVID-19, and we strongly urge action as soon as possible. Our nation’s ability to compete in the race to 5G and next generation technologies depends on it.
Second, after many years of rigorous debate over line access agreements, including a Forbearance proceeding at the FCC and the current Unbundling NPRM at the Commission, INCOMPAS and USTelecom have negotiated a settlement agreement that delivers connectivity benefits for consumers while providing more certainty for a cross section of broadband providers.
The Compromise Proposal submitted to the FCC this week contains greater detail and is a direct response to the issues raised in the proceeding. Our proposal represents the views of a range of communications providers, large and small, incumbent and competitor, who have come to the table to overcome differences and reach common ground.
We urge the FCC to adopt this thoughtful and careful proposal and “…provide the certainty that all providers need to move forward with their business plans, allowing them to compete in the marketplace, rather than continuing to battle in regulatory and judicial fora, in the interest of all customers.”
We would like to thank the FCC leadership and professional staff for their detailed attention to these matters over the years, and providing our industry the flexibility to work together on a negotiated agreement that serves all parties and customers. As we told the FCC, adoption of this proposal in any Order it advances in the proceeding to allow continued competition in the marketplace is “in the interest of all customers.”
Finally, we are grateful to the essential employees of our member companies who never stopped working during this emergency. At a time when our communications infrastructure is more important than ever, the broadband workers who keep our networks running and answer the service calls deserve recognition.
Our nation has a long history of innovation, and our member companies look forward to delivering the modern networks that bring people together and launch our nation into a better tomorrow.
Chip Pickering is CEO of INCOMPAS. Jonathan Spalter is president and CEO of USTelecom – The Broadband Association.