The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has exempted telecommunications giant Verizon Communications from regulations that cover broadband service to large businesses and other carriers, including requirements to negotiate prices at reasonable rates.
Verizon will no longer have to file price reports with the FCC. In addition, it will no longer be required to respond to “reasonable requests” for services and provide service on a nondiscriminatory basis. The FCC, in failing to act against Verizon’s petition for fewer regulations, allowed the petition to be granted, the agency announced late Monday.
The FCC’s two Democratic commissioners criticized the action. “This is not the way to make environment-altering policy changes,” said Commissioner Michael Copps, in criticizing the FCC’s failure to act on the petition.
Copps, in a statement, said the FCC’s action could mean Verizon’s broadband services are no longer subject to U.S. government wiretap rules, no longer subject to FCC consumer privacy rules and no longer required to interconnect with other networks. In addition, the action does away with price hike limitations, he said.
“The commission flashes a green light for rate increases without any regulatory oversight,” he said. “This will raise the cost of doing business in this country for businesses both large and small.”
But FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, in a joint statement, said the FCC’s actions will help Verizon roll out broadband by eliminating regulations that deter investment in new services. Verizon said it will continue to make DS1 and DS3 services available in a nondiscriminatory manner, they noted.
“Broadband access is essential to an expanding Internet-based information economy,” they said in their statement. “Promoting broadband deployment is one of the highest priorities of the FCC. This relief will enable Verizon to have the flexibility to further deploy its broadband services and fiber facilities without overly burdensome regulations.”
A Verizon spokesman wasn’t immediately available for comment.
This action follows an FCC decision in August to end regulations requiring incumbent telecommunications carriers to share their DSL (digital subscriber line) broadband connections with competitors.
-Grant Gross, IDG News Service
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