At its April 20 Open Meeting, the FCC voted, along party lines, to eliminate competition in the $45 billion business data service (BDS) market.
"The pro-monopoly FCC just voted to kick American small businesses where it really hurts, in the wallet. The FCC is out of touch with consumers, out of sync with businesses and out of step with our nation's internet infrastructure goals. We must build faster, more affordable networks of the future. But the FCC's 'one is enough' monopoly policy threatens to end decades of innovation and hinders the streaming revolution," said INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering. "Outside of the FCC, and a handful of AT&T lobbyists, there is not a single person on the planet who believes we currently have enough broadband competition. Prices are going up, and customer service is going down. That doesn't happen in free markets with competitive choice."
Pickering added that "[t]he FCC ignored requests by consumers, the U.S. Small Business Administration and our most important trading partners who all sought basic information about the impact this competition killing change in policy would have. The FCC also denied requests by Members of Congress to provide a sufficient transition period. They even refused transparency requests for county information that would have alerted local communities to the dangerous price hikes they now face."
"Today's FCC action protects monopoly over free markets," he concluded. "By saying one provider is sufficient, the FCC is favoring old incumbents over new innovators. It is punishing small business customers, and holds back entrepreneurs. Our networks drive our economy, and blocking competition from one of our economy's most important sectors is dangerous."
The FCC's news release, as well as statements from the Chairman and Commissioners, can be found on the
. The order is expected to be released this week.
For more stories on the impact of the BDS vote and broadband deployment, see top of the left column in this newsletter.
Prior to the vote, INCOMPAS shared a
and a fact sheet
, that breaks down the impact of the FCC's action on consumers, businesses, schools, libraries and healthcare providers.
AT&T Hikes Prices on Business Broadband
Even before the FCC's vote on BDS, businesses in several states started to see their prices rise. About a week prior to the FCC meeting, telecom giant AT&T quietly announced big price hikes on business broadband services for customers in several states - Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin - that far outpaces rate of inflation.
"AT&T is lobbying the FCC to end competition laws, but still raising prices like a monopoly. AT&T's latest broadband price hike hits small businesses in states won by President Trump the hardest.... Sunshine went down and prices went up in AT&T's bad Friday price attack on small businesses. This is yet another canary in the coal mine for the FCC's business data service Order. Prices rise in monopoly markets, and should fall in competitive ones," Pickering noted. "If the business broadband market is indeed competitive -- as the FCC draft Order implies -- then why are prices going up for these BDS related services? AT&T's oddly timed rate hike is what the US Small Business Administration Advocate warned of last week. If the FCC stays on course to eliminates competition in the broader business broadband market, prices will continue to skyrocket for an even greater number of businesses."