Mediacom Business says FCC’s special access proposal could hinder new entrants

FCC headquarters

As Mediacom ramps up its business services reach into its 22 state region, the cable MSO is joining its larger brethren like Comcast and Charter to challenge the FCC’s business data services (BDS) proposal, saying it could inhibit future investments in markets where only one telco option exists.

The action comes as Mediacom moves to expand the reach of its fiber and HFC network to serve more businesses as a new competitor in many cases.

Dan Templin, SVP for Mediacom Business, told FierceTelecom that the company's chief concern is the FCC's definition of business service competition. 

The regulator has said that a market is competitive if four providers are present.

“The first draft of FCC's business data services (BDS) proposal suggested that a market would be deemed competitive where four or more wired providers are present in a building, and if you did not have four wires in a building it would be deemed not competitive,” Templin said. “The problem is outside of the top ten cities in the country, you’re not going to find four individual wired providers offering TDM and IP because there’s no economic benefit.”

Templin added that in most cases Mediacom Business is a new entrant in providing higher speed services in markets where traditional ILECs only provide lower speed T-1 access to businesses. 

“It’s a concern for Mediacom because we’re the competitive entrant and we’re providing these services where CenturyLink, Frontier and Windstrem have not,” Templin said. “The concern we have on business data services is on how you define a non-competitive market.”

Mediacom certainly has a lot at stake with the BDS proposal.

Already present in 22 states, Mediacom Business itself recently unveiled Project Open Road, an initiative to extend its broadband network to hundreds of commercial properties in Albany, Georgia, and surrounding communities.

Specifically, Project Open Road is focused on putting gigabit internet speeds within immediate reach of more local businesses. It is part of Mediacom’s broader plan to invest $1 billion over the next 3 years to upgrade and expand its national broadband network.

Leveraging a dual coax and fiber-based network structure, Mediacom will be approaching property owners to request rights of entry. After it gets permission to enter a property, Mediacom Business will be able to wire these locations and offer business tenants on each of these premises high-speed services.

Mediacom Business isn't alone. In a recent letter to the FCC, the cable industry's NCTA said that the FCC's regulations should only apply in areas where there is only one BDS provider; a business service area that has fewer than 10 BDS customers and not enough demand to attract more BDS competition; and areas where no customers purchase fiber-based Ethernet BDS.

“What we’re supporting is the NCTA position that as long as there’s a second provider besides the ILEC, and 10 or fewer businesses in a census track, it would be considered competitive,” Templin said.

Templin added that the way the proposal is written could chill investments in certain markets.

“If you define four or more as being competitive it becomes an extant threat to competitive expansion because we’d have to reconsider where you’d have to build,” Templin said.

For more:
- read this NCTA proposal (PDF)
- read this NCTA letter (PDF)

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