The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Briefing.
The FCC announced the tentative agenda for its April 28, 2016, Open Meeting. The following items are on the tentative agenda:
- Transition from TTY to Real-Time Text Technology: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on proposals to support real-time text communications over IP communications networks, to improve the accessibility of these networks for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech disabled.
- Business Data Services: A Tariff Investigation Order and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing a new regulatory framework for the provision of business data services (aka special access services).
In connection with the business data services item on the April agenda, Chairman Wheeler released a blog outlining his proposal for creating a new regulatory framework for the business data services (BDS) market. This proposal is based on four key principles:
- Competition is the best way to ensure consumers benefit. But government must ensure that non-competitive markets don’t harm consumers and businesses or stifle innovation. Thus, Wheeler proposes to identify those markets that are competitive, those that are not, and to adopt a tailored regulatory framework to mirror those distinctions.
- The new approach must be technologically neutral. All BDS services should be governed by the same overarching legal principles.
- FCC actions should incentivize technology transitions. Thus, the agenda also contains a Tariff Order proposing to bar certain specific contractual practices that slow down the switch from legacy TDM services to newer IP-based services.
- Governmental actions should be focused on the realities of the marketplace that exists today – and tomorrow. Thus, he proposes that tariffing of BDS be ended – in all markets for all BDS products.
Wheeler said that the item: (1) asks questions on how best to construct the new BDS regulatory framework consistent with these principles; (2) seeks comment about how best to determine where competition does, and does not, exist, looking to competition among products, to the supply and ability to supply BDS in specific geographies, and to the needs of different classes of customers. He said it is his intent that the FCC adopt a final Order in 2016.
INCOMPASS and Verizon made a joint ex parte filing with the FCC concerning their agreement over certain steps that should be taken to resolve the FCC’s special access proceeding. They indicated agreement on the following framework:
- All dedicated services—no matter the provider that offers it and on a technology neutral basis—should be included in the FCC’s review and regulatory framework.
- All dedicated services should be subject to Title II, including Sections 201 and 202 of the Act.
- The FCC should seek comment on a new regulatory structure for dedicated services that moves away from the current dominant/non-dominant regulatory structure.
- Should the FCC adopt an Order reflecting the first three items, Verizon agrees not to oppose an order reversing its forbearance from Title II regulation of Ethernet services.
- This new regulatory framework should: have ex ante rate regulation in markets that are not competitive so that rates and terms and conditions are reasonable and not discriminatory; and encompass all dedicated services, including packet-based services such as Ethernet, provided by all providers; and
- There should be a relationship between wholesale and retail pricing which the new model should reflect.