The FCC has taken steps to encourage the deployment of fiber-optic broadband networks capable of delivering television, advanced data and voice service to the mass market by local telephone companies.
The FCC’s recent action relieved local telephone companies of most obligations to lease advanced fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network facilities to competitors at a regulated, cost-based price. The FCC majority found that those obligations discouraged carriers’ investment in FTTH broadband facilities.
The order relieves telcos from unbundling requirements for fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) loops, where fiber is extended within 500 ft. of a customer’s premises. It determined that FTTC networks can deliver many of the same benefits as FTTC loops. FTTC networks offer enhanced capability for providing advanced services, including the ability to offer voice, multichannel video and high-speed data services.
The FCC also clarified that incumbent LECs are not obligated to build time division multiplexing (TDM) capability into new packet-based networks or into existing packet-based networks that never had TDM capability.
FCC Chairman Michael Powell said the commission’s fiber policy is designed to remove regulatory barriers to risky investments.
However, Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps disagreed and said the ruling constitutes an ominous precedent for the small business community and does not bode well for independent providers of VoIP services who don’t own or control the physical layer of the network.