The industry that declared itself under “relentless government assault” just 11 months ago is rejoicing at yet another regulatory unburdening today, with Comcast, NCTA and ACA all lauding the FCC’s decision Thursday to deregulate business data services (BDS).
“Today’s action by the FCC is a positive step toward ensuring continued investment in new broadband facilities, driving economic growth and creating jobs,” said David L. Cohen, senior executive VP and chief diversity officer, Comcast, in a statement.
“Businesses today have more options for data services at better prices than at any other time in history, and we want the market to remain competitive and innovative for both the benefit of business customers and consumers,” Cohen added.
“We appreciate the commission’s efforts to remove outdated regulatory barriers that can slow the expansion of broadband networks,” NCTA added in its own statement. “We share [FCC Chairman Ajit] Pai’s goal of closing the digital divide among all Americans and believe that today’s deregulatory actions regarding business data services and wired and wireless infrastructure will further speed the deployment of broadband networks so that all consumers can enjoy the transformative benefits of the internet.”
Added American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew Polka: "ACA applauds today's FCC action to continue its decades-long policy of applying light-touch regulations to competitive providers' offering of business data services (BDS). This longstanding light-touch approach has been a resounding success. Over the past decade, hundreds of ACA's smaller members have entered the BDS market, offering more innovative services at lower prices, and they are now investing billions more to expand their networks and offer even more robust services. By maintaining its policy direction, the FCC will ensure that ACA members' business, community anchor, and wireless provider customers will reap the benefits of all the investment its action will generate."
On Thursday, the FCC voted along party lines to pass a report and order that it said recognizes competition in the BDS market is robust. The agency claimed that legacy regulation inhibits the investment required for the transition of BDS from legacy TDM networks to high-speed Ethernet connectivity. As part of the new order, the FCC has adopted what it called a market test to determine that pricing regulation is no longer required when various conditions are met.
Not surprisingly, consumer group Public Knowledge was not among those who lauded the deregulation.
“For more than a decade, the commission has investigated excessively high rates and anti-competitive conduct in the BDS market,” Public Knowledge said. “Dominant telecommunications providers have long abused their incredible market power, and American businesses and consumers have suffered the consequences in the form of reduced economic growth and job creation, lower business investment in new operations and products and higher prices passed on to consumers for goods and services.”