Incompas to FCC: Release list of counties deemed 'competitive' for business data services

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The FCC said that about 92% of all locations that use BDS service would see an end to protections against monopoly or duopoly pricing from local ILECs.

Incompas, the industry forum representing competitive carriers, has called on the FCC to make the list of counties it finds are “competitive” business data service (BDS) publicly available.

Chip Pickering, CEO Incompas, said in a letter to the FCC (PDF) following the circulation of the FCC’s BDS fact sheet in advance of its April 20 meeting that the FCC should make this list available to help competitive providers and their customers understand how the new plan could affect them.

“On behalf of America’s competitive carriers that provide innovative and cost-effective communications choices for small and medium-sized businesses, and critical community institutions such as schools, libraries, health care providers and state and local governments, I am writing to ask that you direct the Wireline Competition Bureau to release publicly the list of counties that would be deemed “competitive” under the test contained in the draft Order on Business Data Services that was released last Thursday and is currently being considered by the Commission for vote at the Commission’s April 20 Open Meeting,” Pickering wrote. “I ask that this list be released this week, so that all interested parties—including small and medium-sized businesses—can evaluate the impact of the proposed Order.”

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In the draft BDS order (PDF), the FCC said that about 92% of all locations that use BDS service would see an end to protections against monopoly or duopoly pricing from local ILECs.

As part of its competitive analysis of BDS services, the FCC has proposed a competitive market test that it says will “determine whether a given price cap area will be treated as competitive in the provision of DS1 and DS3 end user channel terminations by the incumbent LEC.”

The FCC’s test will treat a county as competitive if 50% of the locations with BDS demand in that county are within a half mile of a location served by a competitive provider based on the 2015 collection or 75% of the census blocks in that county have a cable provider present based on the Commission’s Form 477 data.

Additionally, the FCC has proposed a process to update the list of competitive counties in a way that takes into consideration changing competitive conditions but also avoids the need to conduct what it says are “burdensome data collections.”

A key concern is how any proposed BDS plan could impact how telcos price services like T-1 and next-generation IP-based Ethernet.

“It is critical to a thoughtful and reasoned consideration of this Order to be able to assess exactly what that means, and how many small and medium-sized businesses and critical community institutions could face dramatic price hikes,” Pickering said.

Pickering added that the FCC should release the information before the order comes to a vote.

“Because this information would be released after the draft Order is adopted, there is no reason to withhold it prior to the Commission’s vote,” Pickering said. “Withholding this list only serves to obscure the impact that this draft Order could have on a wide range of business, institutional and governmental users.”