Today the FCC released a Public Notice seeking comments on what the FCC calls the “business broadband marketplace.” While this comment cycle is not directly related to any current FCC proceeding (the docket number – WC Docket No. 10-188 – was only created yesterday), the magnitude of information sought hints at the establishment of future regulatory policies, if not rules, regarding broadband service offerings to businesses, that may impact aspects of other Commission broadband initiatives. Indeed, the Public Notice suggests that the Commission intends to institute regulatory policies over the business broadband marketplace, stating up front that the “business broadband marketplace…requires policies that enable…competitive retail markets, incentives for investments in facilities, and access where competitive infrastructure cannot be economically deployed.” In addition, the Public Notice indicates that the Commission recognizes that “[d]ifferences in the technology used to provide a particular service may cause that service to be subject to significantly different policies, which may undermine competition policy objectives.” This seems to suggest that the Commission prefers a single, uniform policy over broadband business services, regardless of the transmission, technology or facilities used. (The Public Notice could also be a precursor to the Commission’s forthcoming rulemaking in Q4 of this year regarding the collection and analysis of industry-wide data on key broadband metrics (subscribership, prices, performance) for business (and retail) customers.)
Basically, the Commission wants to know everything about “the universe of business broadband service inputs, where they are available, and how they are used.” The Public Notice specifically identifies a number of issues for which it seeks further information, including, among other things, (1) the different types of transmission services, technologies and facilities used to provide business broadband; (2) the various combination of services, technologies and facilities used; (3) trends in the business broadband marketplace, including pricing and technology trends; and (4) the impact of non-traditional marketplace participants (e.g., cable and wireless) and non-carrier wholesale customers (e.g., consumer electronics companies embedding broadband services in their devices) on the marketplace.
Comments are due October 15, 2010. Reply comments are due November 4, 2010.