Vol. 16, No. 40
November 2, 2020
CEI Brings Together Providers to Address Digital Divide
INCOMPAS is working with the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI), a non-profit organization that focuses on equity and innovation in education by working directly with educational institutions to create high-performing schools in under-resourced communities and help children succeed. 

CEI is a valuable resource to companies building broadband networks to support educational needs in underserved communities, identifying where technology barriers and connectivity gaps exist. 

If you are interested in learning more about CEI, a new affiliate member of INCOMPAS, and how they can support your efforts to address the digital divide through deployment and delivery of broadband networks, please email Julia Strow of your interest before Friday, November 6. A virtual meeting will then be set up to introduce you to CEI leaders and provide you more information about their work.
INCOMPAS Statement on FCC Order on Competitive Access,
Dark Fiber and Avoided Cost Resale
The FCC last week voted on an order that makes changes to broadband competition policy, which impacts availability of broadband for millions of residential, business, healthcare and education customers.

Much of the FCC order is based on the compromise agreement filed at the FCC between INCOMPAS and USTelecom related to competitive access and dark fiber. It is the culmination of a multi-year fight to preserve competition access policy established in the bipartisan Telecommunications Act of 1996. INCOMPAS, its member companies and tens of thousand of their customers successfully defeated a Forbearance petition in 2019, and the carefully negotiated agreement with USTelecom is in response to the FCC’s NPRM.

The FCC’s order addresses three distinct provisions – unbundled network elements (UNEs) for last mile competitive access and interoffice dark fiber transport, and “avoided cost resale” from wholesale providers. INCOMPAS offered support for the first two negotiated items, but continues to oppose the FCC’s efforts to eliminate avoided cost resale in the marketplace, which impacts thousands of small business customers nationwide.

Click here to read INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering's statement about FCC order, as well as competitive access, dark fiber and avoided cost resale.
INCOMPAS Praises FCC for Action on TV White Spaces
During its open meeting last week, the FCC took action to harness the power of TV white spaces to expand the reach of broadband to rural communities.

“To help bring broadband to more people in more places, we need to expand our imagination and our innovation," said INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering. "We support the FCC’s action aimed at making TV white spaces available for broadband use as a step toward bridging the digital divide for nearly millions of Americans.”
INCOMPAS: Net Neutrality Repeal’s Impact on Broadband Deployment and Public Safety During a Pandemic
The FCC voted last week on an order about issues that were remanded by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which directed the Commission to clarify and address the impact eliminating net neutrality protections have on pole attachments, public safety and Lifeline.

“Access to broadband has never been more critical and essential. Net Neutrality gives confidence to families, first responders and markets that internet, video streaming and cloud driven services they depend on in times of need will not be blocked, throttled or hit with extra fees," said INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering. “Today, Americans have no guarantee that critical communications over broadband will be delivered since net neutrality was repealed, and they are already paying the price. Without oversight, large ISPs have imposed data caps that have raised prices on consumers during the pandemic. Moreover, large ISPs have responded to the net neutrality changes they demanded by firing workers, cutting broadband services and accumulated record levels of debt.

“Without net neutrality, these large ISPs have a monopoly meal ticket to charge new interconnection fees on start-ups, streaming services and small businesses who are struggling to recover," he added. “INCOMPAS members continue to deploy new networks to bring an alternative to the large ISPs; however, they cannot access poles and conduit unless they provide a Title II telecommunications or a Title VI cable service. Broadband-only providers should not be forced to offer a service merely to gain deployment rights—especially when consumers are pleading for more broadband competition – as the law demands. INCOMPAS has called for policymakers to extend deployment protections for competitive broadband providers in our Broadband Blueprint paper. Over 80% of Americans, Republicans and Democrats, want net neutrality on the books because they know how critical it is for families and Main Street businesses who are on the path to recovery and can’t afford to run into an ISP road block.”