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New FCC Rules: 600 Pages?

ATLANTA – Light Reading Live! – The forthcoming rules from the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) for unbundled network elements platforms (UNE-P) and broadband are said to be reaching 400 and 600 pages in length as the document meanders through a protracted editing process, according to sources at Light Reading's conference on Ethernet Services held here today.

That forthcoming morass of legalese may do little to clear up the uncertain regulatory environment, thus hampering broadband deployment. "It's absurd," deadpanned David Mould, Nortel Networks Corp.'s (NYSE/Toronto: NT) director of co-marketing and regulatory affairs.

Some background, as covered by keynote speaker, TechNet board member, and Anda Networks CEO Charles Kenmore: In May 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the UNE-P rules set forth in the Telecom Act of 1996, which required incumbent carriers to unbundle parts of their networks, making them available to competitive carriers. The Appeals court then required the FCC to reissue those rules based on local market conditions by February 20, 2003. The FCC's February 20 preliminary ruling, among other things, said that the states should decide where unbundling should occur (see Powell Loses FCC Vote, Fiber Players Giddy Over FCC Ruling, and Will RBOCs Spend More on Broadband?).

The FCC's rules, all 400 to 600 pages of 'em, were promised in March. However, "we are still waiting for March 2003," Kenmore noted.

While the world waits, one thing is for certain: Broadband deployments are suffering from lack of a clear, stable set of regulatory guidelines. Competitive carriers can't afford to build their own local loop networks, and the costs involved with leasing incumbent facilities are up in the air.

So the FCC's rules, whenever they show up, may do little more than spark legal battles galore. "There will be 50 lawsuits in 50 states and one big one at the federal level," said Kenmore in his talk.

Where does that leave service providers who want to deploy broadband services? Kenmore again put forth TechNet's proposal of providing 100 Mbit/s to 100 million homes within 100 months as one way of pushing the industry forward. TechNet proposes that the whole thing be financed by a new form of 30-year U.S. Treasury bonds, which would fund the effort to the tune of $30 billion per year without burdening the Federal Treasury (see Charles Kenmore). The plan would work on a national level similar to the way the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency is using municipal bonds to fund local broadband deployments in Utah, Kenmore says.

Of course, in the panel following Kenmore's talk, it was pointed out that there are no service providers on TechNet's board -- which was perhaps meant to imply that the proposal is dead in the water without wide-scale support from carriers.

Fair point; but if there are no better alternatives, the U.S. will soon trail little countries like Austria and Denmark in the number of broadband subscribers per 100 people, Kenmore said. And if the panelists and audience here are stumped, wait 'til they take a few weeks to thumb through the coming FCC rules.

Is there a bright side? Perhaps. Mould, in fact, points out that since the FCC is willing to deregulate broadband, that might signal that they're willing to "take the cuffs off" regarding the deployment of Ethernet services.

More than once, panelists referred to last week's announcement that three top U.S. carriers had agreed on common technical requirements for fiber-to-the-home deployments as a hopeful development (see RBOCs Hungry for Fiber). Such industry cooperation, they say, makes it easier for regulators to do their jobs.

Recalling his days working for carriers, Kenmore echoed the mindset of many in the audience here. "I can work under just about any set of ground rules," he said. "But give me some predictability and consistency."

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

skeptic 12/4/2012 | 11:58:40 PM
re: New FCC Rules: 600 Pages? While the world waits, one thing is for certain: Broadband deployments are suffering from lack of a clear, stable set of regulatory guidelines.

but if there are no better alternatives, the U.S. will soon trail little countries like Austria and Denmark in the number of broadband subscribers per 100 people
------------------------

Its funny to watch how effective the lobbyists
are at creating the perception of a "broadband
crisis".

Its all packaged up with the usual "foriegn
threat" and the problem of "government
regulation". But its all nonsense.

Regulatory guidelines are not holding up
broadband deployments.


optical_man 12/4/2012 | 11:58:39 PM
re: New FCC Rules: 600 Pages? The United States may trail the world in deployments of broadband and 3G, but consider this:
US had initial TV broadcast standards. Locked 'em in early.
Europe waited, upgrades in tech came, now Europe enjoys much clearer picture reception.
The point?
Could be one of two points in divergent directions:
1) US has low broadcast quality, but who wants to watch Khazickstan (sp?) version of BayWatch? Or how 'bout them wonderful British shows.
or.....
2) Europe waited in the 1950's and technology allowed them to surpass anything the US has. in the 'naughts (2000's), the US is messing around with silly regs, all the while technology goes up, price goes down. We may come out ahead in this little one-upmanship game with cheaper, better, delivery vehicles in a few years.
Which one will it be?
Well, it's off the the hotel lobby (supercomm) to lurk amongst the weary...
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 11:58:33 PM
re: New FCC Rules: 600 Pages? The implementation of UNE-P is very expensive and disruptive RBOCs. All costs to implement UNE-P has to be paid by either CLECs or by the US Federal Government.

Although over 80% CLECS have disappeared from the earth, it is rather surprising that the UNE-P is still an issue.
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 11:58:29 PM
re: New FCC Rules: 600 Pages? The implementation of UNE-P is very expensive and disruptive RBOCs

I see it quite differently. It has become fairly obvious that the regulators have been captured. In that regard, regulators will use UNE-P to setup outcomes such that a "successful" CLEC will either get their customers stolen from by the RBOCs or the CLEC will go bankrupt. We have examples of both cases from the recent past, and neither outcome proved to be worthwhile or meaningful.
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 11:58:25 PM
re: New FCC Rules: 600 Pages? The FCC has become irrelevant as far as preserving the public interest is concerned. The commissioners are there to collect/salary/benefits.It has become a safe retirement house. In the recent years most of the public agencies have beciome ceters of corruption and nepotism.
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 11:58:25 PM
re: New FCC Rules: 600 Pages? The irony is watching these regulatory groups make claims that they are "deregulating" and allowing the "private markets" to serve the "public interests". Talk about total abdication of responsibility -- these guys are so confused it's scary. Reminds me of the scene in Life of Brian where the locals are bitching about the Romans where they rationalize themselves into the following:

All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

The sad irony is the FCC plays the part of both the locals and the Romans. And their bitching about themselves is not good sign for our country.

PS. Watching Martin's political tactics yesterday, covering his ass, over Powell's ruling was funny. While P&A both just looked inept.

And, unfortunately, none of the three have earned the rights server the public. They all need to go back and get real job. They should take their misguided staffs with them.
gea 12/4/2012 | 11:58:24 PM
re: New FCC Rules: 600 Pages? BobbyMax:

All your base are belong to us.
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