CWA ups special access protest, delivers 7,100 petitions to the FCC

FCC headquarters

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has upped its protest of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s business data services (BDS) proposal by delivering 7,184 petitions to the regulator.

CWA said that the petitions, which come from a group of union and digital activists, ask the FCC to carefully review their proposals to regulate BDS while focusing on how they could affect broadband service expansion and job creation.

Echoing a similar tone by AT&T and CenturyLink, CWA said that the FCC’s plan favors companies that have been placing more emphasis on wireless services like Sprint and Verizon.

RELATED: CWA says BDS proposal will reduce ILEC network investments, force job cuts

"I oppose the FCC’s plan to change Business Data Services rules to favor non-union companies like Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless over telecom companies that invest billions in high-speed networks and employ union workers,” CWA's petition read. “These changes would make it more difficult for companies to make investments in the infrastructure rural areas need to build strong economies.”

In its initial petition to the FCC, CWA sided with large telcos like AT&T and CenturyLink, saying that Wheeler’s proposal, if implemented, will inhibit service providers from being able to invest in new broadband business expansion, “especially in rural areas” where choices are limited.

The union added that the proposal would also drive more large telcos to lay off more of their workforce. CWA has pointed to CenturyLink slashing 3,500 employees -- or as much as 8 percent of its workforce -- as a result of a decline in legacy TDM-based revenues.Under Wheeler’s proposal, the FCC proposed implementing a one-time 11 percent price cut that would be phased in over three years, beginning in July 2017. Specifically, this includes 3 percent in the first year, 4 percent in year two, and 4 percent in the third year. This is less than the 15 percent cut proposed by Verizon and Incompas.

Interestingly, the FCC has not included the BDS issue as one of the agenda items in its October meeting. It is unclear why the FCC left BDS off the table. Some industry insiders have indicated that the commission is working on a compromise or perhaps decided to wait until the presidential election is over.