Senate Democrats Warn FCC Its BDS Actions Could Harm Rural Telecom Providers

Communications Daily By David Kaut

Five Senate Democrats voiced concern that FCC business data service proposals “could have an outsized negative impact” on rural telecom providers in their states. The Commission “must take care in how it may affect rural areas to make sure it does not deter investments or hinder serviceability,” said the letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler from Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

“A successful policy should recognize and encourage competition where it has developed among BDS providers, especially as additional providers have entered the market in the last couple years. In addition, policies to regulate business data services in non-competitive markets should acknowledge the real cost to provide service and recognize the unique challenges of serving small towns and rural communities.” The letter was dated Oct. 7, the day Wheeler released a “fact sheet” summarizing his BDS proposals (see 1610070052). The letter was highlighted in a release Wednesday from Invest in Broadband America, a coalition of CenturyLink, Cincinnati Bell, Consolidated Communications, FairPoint Communications and Frontier Communications.

The group also called attention to (1) a letter from Texas Reps. Bill Flores (R) and Gene Green (D), which said “a failure to recognize the extent of competition will likely result in regulations that will deter incumbent, recent, and future providers from investing in BDS, harming providers and consumers alike,” and (2) a letter from Delaware Democratic Gov. Jack Markell (see 1610120062).

investinbbandSenate Democrats Warn FCC Its BDS Actions Could Harm Rural Telecom Providers