NCTA to FCC: Want to accelerate 5G? Don't regulate backhaul

The NCTA said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is undermining his stated goal of prioritizing 5G wireless technology by promoting business data regulation that could harm backhaul.

In a blog post, Steve Morris, VP and associate general counsel for the National Cable Telecommunications Association, said, "5G networks will rely on substantially more cell sites than prior generations of wireless service and, as a result, there will be a need for significant new fiber facilities to provide backhaul connecting these cell sites. The BDS Further Notice seeks comment on a number of proposals that could result in extensive new rate regulation of BDS services, including backhaul, resulting in less, not more, deployment of fiber."

Morris' post was published head of the NCTA's commentary filing to the FCC, communicating what it calls "deep concerns" regarding the agency's further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) on Business Data Service (BDS).

Specifically, the NCTA takes aim at the suggestion made by the proposal's backers that not only should the FCC regulate incumbent BDS operators from the wireless industry, but also new, insurgent competition from the MSO ranks. 

"We would hope that it would be readily apparent to the commission that such investment is evidence of competition, and not a threat to competition," Morris said.

"Cable operators have been actively pursuing the backhaul business over the last few years, but they face fierce competition with the incumbent telephone companies and numerous other competitive BDS providers," he added. "Indeed, as a relatively new entrant in the backhaul market, there is virtually no place in the country where a cable operator could offer these services without facing competition from the incumbent telephone company."

Summing up his argument, Morris said, "Given that there is no factual or theoretical reason to think that market forces will result in insufficient investment in fiber for 5G backhaul, regulation of the rates for such service can only have negative consequences. In particular, regulation designed to artificially push prices below market levels will discourage companies from investing in new fiber facilities. That will result in less fiber in the ground and fewer sellers in the marketplace – exactly the situation Chairman Wheeler says he wants to avoid."

For more:
- read this NCTA blog post

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