News -- October 27, 2020

INCOMPAS Statement on FCC October 27 Meeting

Including Competitive Access, Dark Fiber and Avoided Cost Resale

Washington, D.C. (October 27, 2020) – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote today on an Order that makes changes to broadband competition policy which impacts the bridge 2 broadband for millions of residential, business, health care, and education customers.

Much of the FCC Order is based on the compromise agreement filed at the FCC between INCOMPAS and USTelecom related to competitive access and dark fiber. It is the culmination of a multi-year fight to preserve competition access policy established in the bipartisan Telecommunications Act of 1996. INCOMPAS, its member companies, and tens of thousand of their customers, successfully defeated a Forbearance petition in 2019, and the carefully negotiated agreement with USTelecom is in response to the FCC’s NPRM.

The FCC’s Order addresses three distinct provisions – Unbundled Network Elements (UNE’s) for last mile competitive access and interoffice dark fiber transport, and “avoided cost resale” from wholesale providers. INCOMPAS offered support for the first two negotiated items, but continues to oppose the FCC’s efforts to eliminate avoided cost resale in the marketplace, which impacts thousands of small business customers nationwide.

In response to the FCC action today, INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering released the following statement:

On Last Mile Competitive Access and Dark Fiber Transport:
“The nation needs better broadband now more than ever and robust competition is the key to new deployment efforts. We are pleased the FCC has built around the carefully negotiated compromise agreement INCOMPAS forged with USTelecom on last mile competitive access and dark fiber transport.

“The compromise, while not perfect, was the result of months of negotiations designed to bring more certainty to the marketplace by providing critical transition time and rural exemptions that will help small builders continue to bring new networks to new places. I want to thank USTelecom’s CEO, Jonathan Spalter, and SVP Patrick Halley and the USTelecom members for their collaboration and commitment to the compromise.

“Small broadband companies successfully use the market-opening provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to build new networks and deliver a competitive alternative. But there is much more work to be done, and INCOMPAS has proposed a Broadband Blueprint to help streamline infrastructure deployment and lowering permitting fees.

“During this pandemic, consumers are demanding more choices, better customer service, faster speeds and affordable prices. INCOMPAS’ members will continue to be the bridge 2 broadband for communities looking to connect to a better future.”

*To read the joint blog post from INCOMPAS and USTelecom, click here.

*To read Chip Pickering’s Medium blog on the Broadband Blueprint, click here.

*To read the Broadband Blueprint paper, click here.

On Avoided Cost Resale:
“Resale and competitive innovations like “One Call/Connect All” features in the business marketplace have helped millions of small businesses save money add locations and grow their customer base.

“The COVID pandemic has rocked the retail, restaurant and service industry who are struggling to adapt and survive. Now is simply the absolute worst time to eliminate competition laws that protect small business customers from monopoly price hikes and disrupt critical connections businesses need to stay open.”