Thoughts on the FCC

By Peter Radizeski, RAD-INFO

Special access pricing flexibility. Forbearance petitions. The 700MHz wireless spectrum auction rules. These are just some of the major issues facing the FCC now. (The FCC has not ruled on long ignored issues such as inter-carrier compensation, virtual-NXX, and USF reform, but has had plenty of time for indecency).

I did a review of one of the Forbearance Dockets on the FCC Comment site — a whole whopping 196 entries for the AT&T Southeast (BellSouth) Petition Seeking Forbearance from Title II, Computer Inquiry Rules to Certain Broadband Services, Docket 06-125. Most of the comments are from the ILEC’s and Cellcos. In opposition, we have COMPTEL, TWTC, Cbeyond, the NuVox-Covad-XO group and another CLEC group (Alpheus Communications, L.P., Cavalier Telephone, LLC, Deltacom, Inc., Integra Telecom, Inc., McLeodUSA Telecommunications Inc., Mpower Communications Corp., TDS Metrocom, LLC, and U.S. TelePacific Corp.). However, most competitive providers — CLEC or ITSP — whose very existence relies on Special Access and regulation have been too quiet. Agents, too.

It confounds me how executives in this industry ignore the regulatory/legislative issues that have pummeled this industry in the last three years.

Alternative access technologies are rare. While Level 3 and its Metro Ethernet brethren move to light buildings with fiber, what do providers outside of the MSA do? The FCC has three wireless issues on the table. One is the 700MHz Spectrum auction, which has made news due to Google’s push for new rules. It was time for a shake-up. The spectrum belongs to the public domain — it shouldn’t be owned and harnessed by five companies.

The other two issues are white spaces and 2155 to 2175MHz spectrum. White spaces has a coalition — made up of Microsoft, Google, Dell, HP, Intel, Philips, EarthLink, and Samsung – working on technology (devices really) for FCC approval. The worry is that if the device is not sensitive enough, RF will bleed off and interfere with Mr. Couch Potato’s TV viewing pleasure, since white spaces are the unused spectrum space between analog television channels.

From ARS Technica: ”Until their demise in February 2009, analog TV broadcasts will continue to use its allocated spectrum between 54MHz and 698MHz, which covers channels two through 51 (television is getting kicked out of the space above 700MHz). After the transition, that range will be used for digital television. But not all of that spectrum is used in any given city. The White Space Coalition hopes to take advantage of that by using the “white spaces” between channels for wireless broadband … [providing] download speeds of up to 80Mbps to our homes.”

There is a lot of WHAT IF in wireless (as we witnessed with Muni Wi-Fi). Maybe Licensed Spectrum like 2.x that Sprint, Clearwire, AT&T and MCI hold, mixed with WiMax will make a difference next year.

P.S. I wanted to commend the FCC site and search for filed comments under the docket # 06-172 to get a feel for the issue; then take the five extra minutes to vote for competition vote against any more foolish deregulation (UN-regulation really). Most CLEC’s do not own a network; they operate one leased from an ILEC. Only Type I circuits (all on-net) would remain. Type II where the local loop or last feet of the circuit is from the ILEC would be too expensive to be used. (Qwest raised rates 72% after forbearance in Omaha).

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