FCC Set to Release List of Competitive Counties Impacted by Liberalization of Business Data Services Rules

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The FCC has officially released a report and order that “provides a new framework for business data services that minimizes unnecessary government intervention and allows market forces to continue working to spur entry, innovation, and competition.”  Earlier in April, the Commission released a news release announcing its decision to deregulate business data services (BDS) pricing rules. BDS are dedicated point-to-point transmissions of data at certain guaranteed speeds and service levels, and relied upon by businesses, governmental entities, and other organizations.  One common subset of BDS are special access services such as DS1 and DS3 connections.  Whether rate deregulation will take place in a certain community depends upon the results of a “competitive market test” conducted by the FCC.  The competitive market test itself relies upon two sets of data:  the Commission’s 2015 special access data collection and routinely sourced Form 477 data from cable operators.  Much of this data collected by the FCC is considered competitively sensitive and is typically not available to the public.  Nonetheless, now that the Commission has analyzed this data, it will classify all counties or county-equivalents in the United States as being either competitive, non-competitive or grandfathered, and that designation will be critical in determining whether and to what extent the new DBS pricing rules impact competition.  Contemporaneous with the release of the report and order, the Commission has also released a public notice that announces its intention of releasing the full list of competitive, non-competitive and grandfathered counties in the United States.  Affected parties have until Tuesday, May 11 to object to the release of their own data.  However, if the Commission receives no objections, it will release the list of counties on Wednesday, May 12, 2017.

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