FCC Plans to Regulate BDS Rates, Industry Howls

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The FCC in April proposed new rules for Business Data Services (BDS) as part of “an internet protocol environment” but met with wide industry disapproval this week as more than four dozen comments were filed against the plan to regulate rates.

Multichannel News reported that the FCC wants to put a price cap regulation “for cable operators’ business services, in the category now called BDS that used to be called special access.”

Critical comments spanned from industry trade groups to carriers to major towercos. Crown Castle, with more than 40,000 towers for shared wireless infrastructure, argued that “commenters who supported rate regulation ‘completely ignore or merely pay lip service to this critical investment dynamic.’” The company continued with its argument, stating that “rate regulation would be antithetical to the commission’s goal of promoting network investment by competing providers and thereby increasing competitive alternatives for BDS” and said that “rate regulation would deter investment.”

AT&T noted that rate regulation “would curb incentives to build the infrastructure necessary for future broadband-intensive 5G wireless services in these areas” which “flies directly in the face of this administration’s efforts to expand broadband access to everyone and its bold steps to speed us toward a 5G future.”

NTCA: The Rural Broadband Association recommended that “regulatory frameworks should specifically be designed … to achieve other important public policy objectives.”

According to The Gleaner, Scott Anderson, Chief Legal Officer at Midcontinent Communications, said “BDS is one of the fastest growing segments of Midco’s business … rate regulation may make a number of future BDS projects simply beyond the reach of Midco and potential customers.”

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