The Federal Communications Commission today voted to eliminate price caps in much of the business broadband market by imposing a new standard that deems certain local markets competitive even when there’s only one broadband provider.
“What this order does is open the door to immediate price hikes for small business broadband service in rural areas and hundreds of communities across the country,” FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, said in a detailed dissent. “Cash-strapped hospitals, schools, libraries, and police departments will pay even more for vital connectivity.”
While there are no price caps on home Internet service, the FCC does limit the prices of so-called Business Data Services (BDS) provided by incumbent phone companies like AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink. The services are delivered over copper-based TDM networks and are commonly used for “connecting bank ATM networks and retail credit-card readers [and] providing enterprise business networks with access to branch offices, the Internet, or the cloud,” the FCC said.
One ISP choice counts as competition
In a very inside-baseball proceeding (the Jurisdictional Separations and Referral to the Federal-State Joint Board) that has not gotten any attention, the FCC has requested an 18 month extension to examine the cost allocation rules that are applied to revenues and expenses of AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink’s state utilities, which they control.
The problem is that the FCC has been taking extensions in the same, exact proceeding for 16 years (which we will discuss). This takes the phrase “kicking the bucket down the road” to a whole new level of government cover-up.
And this proceeding is critical. In a meeting scheduled for April 20th, 2017, the FCC is steam-rollering and doing a hatchet job on upcoming proposals that will be discussed. From Broadband Data Services, (BDS), to the shutting off the copper networks, or the IP Transition, the FCC plans to gut all customer protections, block competition, and harm all businesses that rely on these data services, (formerly called “Special Access”).
So, how can the agency, then, attempt to shut down and delay examination of the accounting rules that are directly tied to these other items?
On April 17th, 2017 we filed comments with the FCC to start immediate audits and investigations of the cross-subsidies of the incumbent phone companies, AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink. As we document, Verizon’s own financial accounting revealed massive manipulations of the financial books created by the FCC’s “Big Freeze” and negligence. But this is happening in every state because the FCC rules are federal, not state-based.