FCC Chair Wheeler Missed a Point

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Peter
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

FCC Chair Wheeler Missed a Point

At Comptel, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was the keynote speaker. Competition is the FCC model, he stated. Really? Since when?

Do you think we have adequate competition in anything but cellular?

Wheeler says that for the FCC "the best way to serve consumers and economic growth is through the push and pull of competition."

It's a nice idea but not sure that it is put into practice enough.

The economy today does run on the Internet. Wheeler said, "Today, COMPTEL's members deliver important competitive alternatives to business and enterprise customers. This in turn helps those enterprises provide better, more affordable goods and services to members of the general public--be they students at a community college, patients at a hospital, or customers at an auto repair shop."

The CLECs, CAPs, fiber and hosted players account for about 25% of the telecom spend in the US. That's a large slice of a big pie -- that employs a lot of taxpayers and consumers while also serving businesses, non-profits and governments of all sizes in a more flexible manner than the Duopoly.

Right now the FCC is saddled with dockets that will actually determine the life of the competitive landscape.

  • Net Neutrality (Open Internet)
  • TDM-to-IP transition
  • inter-carrier compensation (access charges) for OTT VoIP
  • USF Reform and CAF experiments
  • forbearance in wireless regulations (USTA example)
  • Special Access pricing
  • Inter-connection.

These are heady issues, each of them. With winners and losers on each decision. Some losers will not survive. If the FCC is really about fostering competition, then many of these issues are a lot easier to decide than all of the posturing and comments suggest.

The last time these kinds of decisions were made was in 2004-2005. After the Brand-X loss, not only was DSL taken off the table for competitive carriers, but also cable networks. The following year, a ruling took ILEC fiber assets off the table for ISPs and CLECs.

Broadband, fiber and cable networks are available today via wholesale commercial contracts, including Special Access. There are a number of stories about cable ignoring CPNI rules and wholesale pricing being more than retail.

Luckily, copper isn't done yet due to g.fast, EoC, and newer tech coming out of Alcatel. But will the ILECs keep the copper? Can they be forced to?

Wheeler remarked, "Where copper is being taken offline, should competitors have the opportunity to buy the copper so that a valuable resource is not wasted? And where copper is not being retired, how do we ensure that it is being maintained adequately?" How does the Windstream REIT play into it? Can a REIT be regulated?

There are a number of proposals out there, including this one: "Rep. Waxman suggested the FCC reclassify broadband providers as common carriers under Title II, and use its Section 706 authority to establish a no blocking rule, a no throttling rule and a no paid prioritization rule."

The longer it takes to reach a decision means that there is uncertainty which means investment dollars to build networks gets harder to find and more expensive to borrow.



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