The FCC lays the groundwork for next-gen networks

By:
Natalie Bannerman
Published on:

The Federal Communications Commission unveils a number of regulatory reforms to encourage investment in 5G networks

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has implemented a number of reforms to encourage investment by providers in the next-generation of networks.

The news comes as part of the FCC’s wider plan to enable carriers to invest in modern networks rather than put its resources in old legacy infrastructure and services.

One of the approved changes involves access to access to utility poles and conduits, under the new rules; local providers are given equal access to each other’s poles, reduced costs faced by broadband providers by barring pole owners from charging for certain costs they have already recovered from others (called make-ready fees), attachment disputes are speedily resolved by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau through use of a 180-day “shot clock.”

Additionally, there are another set of reforms that revise rules that delay or stop companies from replacing copper with fibre or that delays the discontinuance of old technologies in favour of services using Internet Protocol (IP) technologies. 

Specifically these reforms will; allow providers to notify customers, including federal agencies, earlier of upcoming network changes and copper retirements; provider can speed the timeframe for upgrading copper to fibre, they are able to expedite applications filed by carriers seeking to stop taking new customers for low-speed voice and data services; discontinue previously “grandfathered” low-speed data services; and discontinue low-speed services for which there are no customers.

Commenting in the announcement, Will Johnson, senior vice president for federal regulatory and legal affairs said in a statement: “We’re very pleased that the FCC continues moving forward on policies that will encourage investment and deployment of next-generation broadband networks. Verizon is a leader in deploying advanced networks to serve our customers, and several of the orders adopted by the FCC today will bring the benefits of these networks and services to more Americans more quickly.”

As well as the various reforms taking place the FCC is also requesting comment on additional reforms, including how the FCC can expedite rebuilding and repairing broadband infrastructure after natural disasters. It goes on to say that these changes do not affect a providers’ obligations to comply with 911 service requirements and that all voice services remain subject to requirements that they support access by people with disabilities, regardless of technology.

Only last month the FCC became the final regulatory body to approve the now completed $34 billion merger between CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications. The acquisition now means that CenturyLink is a significant player in global network services market "number two in the world in enterprise," said its CTO Aamir Hussain.

In an exclusive interview with Capacity Hussain says Hussain was quoted as saying there are approximately $1 billion worth of synergies "$125 million in capital expenditure and $800 million to $850 million in operational expenditure, most of which is coming from the network." For the full interview please click here.