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FCC Identifies Competitive BDS Counties

The FCC has released the list of counties it has deemed competitive for the purposes of deregulating the business data services (BDS) broadband market.

The FCC voted last month to approve the deregulatory proposal offered up by new chairman Ajit Pai and over the objections of lone Democrat Mignon Clyburn. BDS services include wireless backhaul, credit card readers, ATMs and institutional hookups to schools and libraries.

Those counties judged eligible for price deregulation include ones with two providers or with "nearby providers."

While the FCC conceded that releasing the list (which also includes the counties deemed noncompetitive and grandfathered counties) could "indirectly reveal" competitively sensitive information of the locations a "competitive" provider is able to serve, the Wireline Competition Bureau pointed out there had been no objections filed to publishing the list, while a number of parties had called for its publication, including commissioner Mignon Clyburn.

Related: Clyburn Calls for Release of Competitive Counties List

"The absence of objection supports public release of the county lists, which is necessary for implementation of the competitive market test mandated by the Business Data Services Order," the bureau said in releasing the list.

There are about 40 pages worth of counties deemed competitive—the BDS proposal was based on the presumption by the FCC that the BDS market was generally competitive—which included duopolies, nearby competitors and slower speeds. By contrast, there were only about 17 pages worth of counties still deemed noncompetitive and a page and a half of grandfathered counties.

The FCC under Democrat Tom Wheeler had proposed a more regulatory approach to BDS reform, concluding from the same data that the market still lacked sufficient competition for broad deregulation of prices.