Posted by: miniflex | March 31, 2010

What will Chapter 4 of the National Broadband Plan mean for those developing fiber networks?

One key point has leapt out in relation to optical fiber networks, Recommendation 4.9.

The FCC should ensure appropriate balance in its copper retirement policies

Copper loops between customers and an incumbent carrier, either used by the carrier or leased to competitive carriers, can be retired and replaced with Fiber under current FCC regulations.

If the loops are ‘unbundled’ or leased to a competitive carrier and subsequently replaced with fiber, it is unlikely that they will have access to the replacement fiber network, potentially harming competition.

However the counter-argument is that fiber is less expensive to maintain and can carry greater services and increased bandwidth.

Maintaining a combination of copper and fiber would be prohibitively expensive and reduce the incentive for incumbents to deploy fiber facilities.

It is likely the FCC will review the current copper retirement policies to ensure that a balance is met between keeping competition and encouraging incumbent fiber roll-out. We suspect this will cause some heated debate due to the nature of the stakeholders involved.

The rest of Chapter 4 does not directly deal with fiber, but there are recommendations which are likely to be beneficial to consumers and in some cases either pressure or help network owners, these include:

  • Encouragement of competition
  • Better monitoring, analysis and disclosure of broadband deployments, speeds, quality and competition
  • Investigation of digital goods and services taxation
  • Clarifying interconnection rights and encouraging change to IP-to-IP connections where possible
  • Improving data roaming
  • Increase competition in the set-top box market
  • Improve development of online identities, so that identities can be securely proven
  • Improve online security and protection
  • Providing for the appropriate transition from circuit-switched networks
  • Leveraging international investment

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