ACA Hails FCC Actions To Facilitate Broadband Investment
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted Hearn
PITTSBURGH, August 21, 2018 – The American Cable Association explained to federal agencies that based on all available evidence, fixed broadband markets in which smaller ISPs operate are substantially competitive or subject to sufficient competitive constraints.
For instance, in urban markets, smaller ISP overbuilders compete with two incumbent broadband providers and strive to provide consumers with higher performance and more reliable networks, more innovative services, and better customer service. In rural markets, smaller ISPs usually compete with another wireline ISP and often with fixed wireless and satellite providers – and even where choice is more limited, the FCC’s regulations effectively establish performance floors and price ceilings similar to that found in competitive markets.
ACA made these points and highlighted the role of independent communications providers in these markets, particularly as drivers of fixed broadband competition, in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission on Aug. 17 in an effort to assist the Wireline Competition Bureau’s fact-gathering on the state of fixed broadband competition. In addition, ACA covered largely the same material in an Aug. 20 filing with the Federal Trade Commission related to an examination of competition and consumer protection issues in communication, information, and media technology networks.
“The FCC has already recognized that competition in fixed broadband markets is widespread, and smaller ISPs, regardless of where they operate, can tell you that it is becoming more intense every day. New providers are entering their markets all the time, and with fixed and mobile broadband service converging, the competitive heat will only be turned up. The last time the FTC examined the market, it found that the broadband Internet access industry is moving in the direction of more, not less, competition. That trend continues today. All of this competition is a win for consumers. It drives ISPs to increase their network investment, roll out new services, and keep prices reasonable,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
As a result, smaller ISPs, many of which are members of ACA, have neither the incentive nor ability to harm consumers, edge providers, or competition. Moreover, in the interconnection and traffic exchange markets, they are buyers, and in no position to dictate the terms of any of their agreements. In fact, smaller ISPs are more likely to be leveraged by the large edge providers and other Internet actors, just as they are leveraged unreasonably by video programmers.ACA also noted that actions by the FCC have played a key role in driving competition. As ACA members have stated publicly, the FCC ‘s decision to eliminate common carrier (Title II) regulation of ISPs removed a real deterrent to their investment.
In addition, in its FCC comments, ACA noted the FCC’s recent order to reform the pole attachment process will expedite and lower the cost of broadband network deployments. As a result, smaller ISPs will move to invest to deliver high-quality, affordable broadband services to their communities, including in rural areas. ACA, however, explained that broadband investment by smaller ISPs that also provide video services is jeopardized by ever rising carriage fees charged by television broadcasters and video programmers, and it called for the FCC to act to address this problem.
“Despite their local profile and smaller scale, ACA members deliver high-quality fixed broadband services to communities across the nation, often in the face of significant marketplace and regulatory challenges. By continuing its work to lower the cost of deployment, the FCC will further empower ACA members to compete in the fixed broadband marketplace and help bring more choice to consumers. That said, the FCC needs to address the broken retransmission consent market and abuses by vertically integrated providers, which are inflating video prices for consumers and deterring broadband investment,” ACA’s Polka said.
In the FTC filing, ACA noted that smaller ISPs will continue to protect customer privacy and data security and to comply with the FTC’s “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” standard. ACA reiterated its views on a sound privacy and data security framework that is governed by the FTC and that applies equally to all ISPs and other providers, including edge providers, in the Internet eco-system. A framework that provides Internet providers with the ability to update their practices in ways that meet the evolving privacy and data security needs of their customers, ensures they can provide their customers new products and customized services, and doesn’t impose undue costs or burdens is essential.
ACA in the FCC filing highlighted the business goals and actions of independent communications providers. ACA documented a commitment to broadband that can only be called impressive. From 2013 through 2017, ACA members invested more than $10 billion to expand and upgrade their broadband networks, and they continue to invest more than $1 billion annually. These investments reflect ACA members’ understanding that consumer demand for high-speed broadband continues to grow rapidly, and that continual improvements in service are necessary to keep pace with customer expectations.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 800 smaller and medium-sized, independent companies that provide broadband, phone and video services to nearly 8 million customers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit: https://acaconnects.org/