The carrier transition to IP is worrying competitive carriers in the US. They fear the incumbents will try to re-start the clock on the old unbundling/open access struggle. So they're getting together to lobby. Ian Scales reports.
US competitive service providers have launched the Broadband Coalition with the avowed aim of lobbying for a bigger slice of the market under the National Broadband Plan and to "renew and strengthen the competitive framework established by the Telecom Act of 1996."
In the US (as in Europe) the pro-competition message has arguably been drowned out over the past few years by its nemesis, the 'incentive to invest' argument, put forcefully and often by the incumbent carrier lobby who use it, not just to counter open access and unbundling requirements, but to argue against Internet neutrality.
As a result the "IP re-writes the rules" notion is no wild conspiracy theory got up to influence the FCC - the incumbents believe it to be true as well as the CLECs.
The argument is rather about which side should benefit as the rules are upgraded for fibre.
Is more competition the answer to spur more investment, or do regulators need to pull back on orchestrating competitive entry to ensure that incumbents can generate the profits to make the network building exercise worthwhile? A similar argument is under way in Europe around mobile network competition and the lack of it. (see - European telcos "collusion" claims: Has the industry brought EC investigation down upon its own head?
Of particular CLEC concern in the US is that the 'traditional' last mile unbundling arrangements won't flow through to equivalent access as telcos replace copper with fibre. The Coalition says it is going to get FCC to clarify the obligations incumbents have to CLECs in the transition.
“The Telecom Act of 1996 unleashed a wave of innovation by allowing competition in telecom services where monopolies once dominated,” said former Federal Rep. coalition advocate Chip Pickering (former Republican congressman). “But today, competition and innovation are endangered as the largest telecom providers work to consolidate market share and seek to undo much of the benefits of the act. We want the FCC to reaffirm that competition—the foundation of innovation, economic growth and job creation, remains a cornerstone of federal telecom policy.”
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