Thursday, April 28, 2016

FCC to Re-Regulate Special Access, Include Cable TV for the First Time

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is considering a major change in regulation of special access services, extending wholesale obligations for the first time to cable TV and fiber to premises connections, using a principle of “technological neutrality.”

The rules have not yet been made public, but in addition to bringing cable TV facilities under the mandatory wholesale regime for the first time, the order is expected to reintroduce price regulation of special access services. Many believe wireless backhaul is the main reason the new approach is being taken, essentially to “protect” prices for backhaul circuits for mobile carriers who do not own fixed network assets.

The problem, some argue, is that such wholesale rules always have some clear consequences.

By forcing carriers to provide competitors wholesale access to special access facilities, one provider takes the risk of investing in the facilities, while other competitors then are able to lease use of those same facilities at regulated rates.

That creates disincentives for access investment, many would argue.

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