Carriers Announce New Coalition To Preserve Investment, Competition In Broadband Market

CenturyLink is one of the founding members of the "Invest in Broadband for America" coalition, which is working to push for the FCC to reconsider its business broadband proposal.

"Invest in Broadband for America" will push for the FCC to reconsider business broadband proposal

Five U.S. network infrastructure providers today announced they were combining their efforts to preserve critical network infrastructure and competition in the business broadband market.

The companies, who together operate data and fiber transport networks in all 50 states, provide dedicated connections, or "special access," to competitors who need to reach fiber networks to market competing telecom services. Substantial and ongoing investments in these services are what connect businesses, homes, cell towers for wireless traffic and data services for millions of users. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently proposed sweeping and questionable new regulations on the special access market and incumbent providers.

The "Invest in Broadband for America" coalition ( is made up of CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL), Cincinnati Bell, Inc. (NYSE: CBB), Consolidated Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSL), FairPoint Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: FRP) and Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: FTR).

The same companies were joined last month by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) in filing a motion to strike the "irretrievably flawed" data framework underlying the FCC’s recent business broadband services proposal. According to the motion, the record shows that several major cable providers did not clearly or fully report that they were able to provide at least 22 times more business data services using metro Ethernet than were reflected by the original data in 2013.

"First and foremost, it is crucial that the FCC get the data right on competition in the marketplace before flying blindly into a major policy decision," said John Jones, CenturyLink Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Government Relations. "Important decisions are best made with accurate data. What is at stake here is the definition of ‘competition.’ That definition will have a substantial impact on the telecom and national economy for years to come. Think investment, suppliers, employees, infrastructure and contractors."

According to Kathleen Quinn Abernathy, Frontier Senior Vice President, External Affairs, "It appears much of the FCC’s plan for new regulation of broadband services is for the purpose of subsidizing undefined 5G technology for the wireless industry. This is the same wireless industry that increasingly relies on our robust fiber build-out to move data traffic from smartphones to the public network and has as much as 10 times the earnings of the wireline industry. Without investment into the backhaul infrastructure by the wireline industry, the future of 5G technology could be rendered useless."

The coalition partners are particularly concerned about the potential of unintended consequences for rural and other underserved communities if the FCC’s proposal is passed.

"The underserved rural markets are already trailing large urban areas in investment and higher speeds. This order does nothing to further additional investment, much less competition, in those markets. Under the FCC’s proposal, productivity factors and picking winners and losers with questionable data would make rural markets poor candidates for investments that would enable 5G technology," said Michael T. Skrivan, FairPoint Vice President, Regulatory. "We are concerned the FCC’s rush to regulate would harm the country’s most vulnerable consumers."

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