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Arkansas Republicans Seek BDS Deregulation Glide Path

A trio of Arkansas Republicans has asked FCC chairman Ajit Pai to give network providers a "reasonable transition period" before adopting a new deregulatory broadband businesses data services (BDS) proposal the FCC is voting on April 20.

That came in a letter to the chairman from Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Rep. French Hill.

They told Pai that while they support his efforts to "identify and eliminate unnecessary rules and regulations" and to modernize telecom nets, they also want him to buffer the "potential disruptions" and "unintended consequences" on small businesses (competitive carriers) of deregulating rates for incumbent large players like AT&T and CenturyLink.

They argue that a transition period would create a "window" for planning for price increases or purchasing IP-enabled equipment—the proposal is looking to speed the transition to IP-based services, they point out.

They did not say how long a transition period they wanted but did note that wireless 5G deployments targeted for 2020 "may serve to hold prices in check despite the highly concentrated ownership of BDS facilities (by the incumbents, former Bells who built out as regulated monopolies). They also said a transition runway would allow providers to educate consumers about "the coming changes," including "price hikes" and "termination of service."

The use of terms like "hike" for prices, "disruptions" and "highly concentrated ownership" had more of the flavor of a Democratic letter than one from Pai's own party.

The Small Business Administration's advocacy office has also called for an "adjustment period" to the new regs, though it also called for a delay of the vote.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.