US FCC ends price caps on many business data lines

Public Knowledge Releases Second Pai-Pounding Video

With today's vote, the FCC will return to the "pre-August 2016 status quo in the marketplace" for broadcasters.

Pai said the BDS proceeding "was launched way back in 2005", and that "a dozen years of deliberation is enough".

Other groups opposed to business broadband deregulation say the FCC also hasn't taken into account the high cost of running fiber to buildings without existing service, regardless of distance.

ISPs argue that the Open Internet order has depressed and discouraged investment. So unfolded today's Federal Communications Commission monthly open meeting, but not without an ear-scorching rebuke from the commission's only Democrat over reinstatement of the UHF discount, which counts just half the population covered by a UHF TV signal toward the 39 percent national audience cap.

"In reaching this decision, the FCC didn't examine whether the facts justified a more stringent cap or analyze whether the cap should have been raised at the same time the UHF cap was eliminated". This rule permits broadcasters that own stations operating in the UHF spectrum to count just 50% of the TV households in the market toward the national TV station market cap.

"On the other hand, if the discount and cap increase do not occur in tandem, we think [Tegna, Meredith and E.W. Scripps] could benefit as broadcasters with the ability to combine/add the most reach", Janedis wrote. She said it "will enable the largest broadcast station owners to grow even larger".

The FCC's decision to reduce price controls on bulk broadband access _ known as business data services _ came after Wheeler had proposed to tighten them a year ago.

The business data services (BDS) order drew the most interest and heat because of a sharp dispute over whether the $45 billion market is too heavily regulated now or needs more effective regulation to make it more competitive.

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Large telecom companies such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. provide special connections to heavy data users such as banks, retailers, schools and hospitals for services such as ATMs, credit-card authorizations and general internet access.

"Eliminating the national designation procedure puts more "state cops on the beat" and strengthens both complementary state Lifeline programs and the quality of service provided to customers, as well as deters fraud and abuse of the program", NARUC said last month after Pai announced his plans.

The decision ends most regulatory requirements in almost all areas, but retains some price caps in areas with little competition.

In his comments, Pai argued that while "price regulation is seductive", it poses a threat to competition and innovation.

But consumer groups and smaller companies for years have complained that this segment suffers under an absurd amount of monopoly control, resulting in many companies and organizations paying sky-high rates for basic connectivity. The price cap would also go away if a cable broadband provider serves 75 percent of locations in the county.

The independent U.S. Small Business Administration's office of advocacy, which asked for a delay on the FCC vote a week ago, has shared Clyburn's concerns about price hikes.

Following a transition period, ILECs in counties meeting the competitive market test will no longer be required to file tariffs with the FCC.

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