filed May 4 at the FCC by USTelecom, a trade group representing large, incumbent telcos, seeks to enable those providers to escape their obligations under Section 251 of the Communications Act requiring them to provide wholesale access to unbundled network elements (UNEs).
UNEs offer a means of competitive entry that spurs fiber build and innovation. The action requested by this petition will impact both residential and business customers, cutting off innovative competitors, which will result in higher prices for business customers and curtailing millions of dollars in fiber deployment.
In response to the petition, INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering, said that "big telecom's 'competition cut off' will freeze broadband deployment and burn consumers and small businesses with higher bills. Cutting off access and kicking the little guy where it hurts is a brazen move, and we urge the FCC to reject the measure outright."
"The facts are clear, where smaller competitors have access and are deploying new networks, big telecom incumbents are forced to upgrade their service and lower prices. USTelecom's petition delays the future and will incentivize large incumbent telecom providers to raise rates on older, slower lines for much longer," Pickering added. "Wholesale access is a critical bridge to fiber construction and infrastructure investment. The FCC has fully endorsed a broadband deployment agenda to help bring faster speed, lower cost networks to all Americans, including underserved rural communities. Cutting off competition and eliminating a wholesale market that incentivizes new fiber deployment runs counter to the FCC's goals, and we encourage the Commission to reject the petition."
As a matter of procedure, forbearance petitions are deemed granted if the FCC does not act within one year of the filing of the petition. The FCC does have the ability to extend that time by 90 days.