The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council have jointly filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urging that the Cbeyond Petition to reverse course on what the two organizations termed “longstanding and successful Commission policies” concerning fiber unbundling be denied.
The current FCC rules exempt incumbent telephone companies that build all-fiber networks from requirements that they lease their lines to competitors. The two associations said that this policy, promulgated in 2003, has been responsible for the wave of investment in high-speed, all-fiber networks.
TIA and the FTTH Council asserted in their comments that the Cbeyond petition fails to address the statutory impairment standard that governs unbundling decisions. Time and again, they said, the FCC has carefully considered unbundling issues in the context of constructing its broadband regulatory regime, weighed the appropriate incentive structures, and opted for a regime guided by standards that promote broadband investment and deployment.
The associations also noted that broadband providers commit tens of billions of dollars in capital expenditures each year to deploy and upgrade their networks, which they said resulted in “dramatic gains” in broadband connectivity and adoption.
"Our nation's employment and economy are now impacted in no small part by the tremendous levels of broadband investment, availability, and connectivity. Yet the petition ignores these facts and instead seeks to turn established and successful commission precedent on its head," the filing said.
"TIA's 600 member companies manufacture and supply products and services used in the provision of broadband and broadband-enabled applications," said TIA President Grant Seiffert. "If this petition were granted, it would stifle investment in and deployment of broadband networks and would have a negative impact on the vibrant ICT industry. Ultimately, the benefits Americans derive from broadband would be impaired."
"Consumers have an ever-increasing appetite for faster networks that can handle video and other emerging high-bandwidth applications, and the current FCC policy on fiber unbundling has been an essential factor in the enormous gains in FTTH deployment over the past six years," said Joe Savage, president of the FTTH Council. "As bandwidth needs grow, it wouldn't make sense to reverse a policy that has proved effective in helping our industry satisfy America's need for speed."
In the filing, TIA and the FTTH Council asserted that Cbeyond's petition relies on "bald assertions that providers are impaired without access to the packetized capabilities of fiber and hybrid loops, and makes easily refuted assertions regarding the state of fiber deployment over recent years. Further, the petition is impermissibly based on a specific business plan contemplated by Cbeyond itself and relies on the claim that its need for unbundled facilities arises from the heightened capacity demands imposed by its services. Yet, this argument contravenes the impairment standard's central tenet -- namely, that increased capacity needs will give rise to increased revenues and thus render competitive deployment of facilities more feasible, not less."
"The petition also places undue reliance on the flawed Berkman Study, which overlooks the fact that the United States enjoys a multi-platform broadband marketplace that is relatively unique in the world. The Berkman Study also understates the role that public investment has played in other nations while, at the same time, overstating the relationship between unbundling requirements and adoption," the filing said.