On Friday, the FCC proposed yet more new rules for the telecommunications industry, looking to keep the transition from copper to fiber from becoming a cudgel wielded by incumbents against competitive operators. Switching off legacy copper systems which regulators required to be available on a wholesale basis in favor of fiber systems they have not effectively kicks providers without the reach out of the market.
Some may call this an ‘unintended gap’, but it wasn’t unintended at all nor was it unforeseen. It was supposed to be an incentive to get incumbents to build more fiber, since they wouldn’t have to wholesale it. That was the whole idea, and people started warning about the consequences from the moment it was proposed. But with the FCC, kicking the can down the road is a core competence.
Now the FCC is looking to rectify the situation by requiring reasonably comparable wholesale access at similar prices to be offered on the new systems. But just temporarily, until the issue can be addressed in greater depth. You know, in a few years when a consensus has developed, like it did with… *cough* net neutrality.
On the other hand, it’s somewhat ironic to see competitive carriers lobbying for the continuation of a regulatory framework under which most CLECs have chafed for so long. But then, those that depended heavily or even completely on incumbent assets to operate are larely gone by now, and it is mostly those who use that access to fill in gaps in their own infrastructure who remain.
The FCC is also planning to require battery backup systems for FTTH, starting with an 8 hour minimum and rising to 24 hours. Makes plenty of sense, but it’s still surreal to me that we are still fighting over that trickle of power that comes down a copper telephone wire.
The USTA has said “mandates that new services be reasonably comparable to legacy services threaten to complicate and delay the transition without providing any significant counterbalancing benefit.” How often have we actually seen modern technology fail to be at least reasonably comparable to legacy services?
You’d think with all the advances in technology over the past 50+ years, both in communications and energy, that we’d have found a better way to do this… We have batteries that power what was once a supercomputer and now sits in the palm of our hand for a day, and others that now send luxury electric cars hundreds of miles on a charge. But we can’t do any better than 8 hours for a rotary phone that’s dumber than a modern doorbell?
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