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By Kyle Daly
Oct. 27 — The Federal Communications Commission plans to vote Nov. 17 on price caps and a handful of new regulations for the business broadband market, the agency announced Oct. 27.
The agency has scheduled a vote on new rules that would establish a staggered series of price caps on business data services (BDS), which telecom and cable companies sell to banks, retailers, government and corporate users, schools and hospitals that need to move data, as well as to other service providers to connect cell sites to backbone networks.
The proposed rules are intended to inject competition into the BDS market, including services offered by AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., CenturyLink Inc. and Frontier Communications Inc. The prices large BDS providers charge businesses and smaller BDS providers looking to hook into their networks have consistently gone up in recent years.
According to an agency fact sheet released earlier this month, the rules wouldn’t impose the price caps on newer, “packet-based” BDS, which are based on newer technology and offer much faster broadband pipes than legacy BDS offerings, typically starting at a minimum of 45 megabits-per-second (Mbps). The plan represents a pullback from an earlier proposal billed as a total overhaul of BDS regulations (2016 TLN 5, 4/5/16).
Major BDS providers contend the price caps will harm their businesses and that the BDS market is already sufficiently competitive . Frontier said in an Oct. 21 FCC filing that it met with several agency officials to ask that the rules impose less aggressive price caps on midsize BDS providers like itself.
The agency also plans to vote Nov. 17 on rules to launch the second phase of the Mobility Fund, which subsidizes the development of rural wireless networks, and a proposal to move forward with new data roaming rules that would address small wireless carriers’ complaints of rising roaming agreement rates.
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