BDS Item Not on FCC October Meeting Agenda

Broadband privacy, as chairman signaled, is on docket
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The FCC late Thursday (Oct. 6) circulated the tentative agenda for the Oct. 27 public meeting and the chairman's proposal for revamping broadband data services (BDS), formerly special access services, was not on the agenda.

That agenda was confined to the previously announced broadband privacy order, and orders dismissing petitions to deny forfeiture orders over deceptive marketing of prepaid calling cards.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he planned to vote on BDS by the end of the year, but many were expecting it to be on the October agenda if the last-minute flurry of letters and filings, both for and against, is any gauge.

Wheeler is proposing to phase out the presumption of regulating the rates of historically "dominant carriers" -- the ILECs (incumbent local exchange carriers) -- which had been a way to boost competition from "nondominant" CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers) and from cable competitors, and instead regulate the rates of any of them as it deems necessary. That is in the name of boosting price and service competition for the "special-access"--rebranded by the FCC as "broadband data"--services.

The proposal is rooted in a compromise offering from ILEC Verizon and CLEC group INCOMPAS. Wheeler has argued that a BDS revamp is needed for the competitive backhaul pricing for 5G and thus is a key to the universal wireless coverage that is an Obama Administration priority.

NCTA: The Internet & Television Assocaition has called the FCC proposal an unprecedented move to regulate the rates of a new entrant that will threaten the gains cable operator ISPs have made against the incumbents with the lion's share of the market.

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