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Frontier Form Letters Flood FCC Docket on Business Data Services

Frontier Communications staffers are filling up the Federal Communications Commission’s business data services docket dissing the Verizon-INCOMPAS compromise on reregulation that is the basis of chairman Tom Wheeler’s “tech-neutral” proposal being circulated for a vote by the other commissioners.

Frontier recently bought $10.5 billion worth of Verizon’s wireline broadband (and voice and video) business in three states, the lines that the FCC is reregulating to ensure competition, regardless of the provider for, among other things, wireless backhaul. Verizon is a purchaser of wireless backhaul for the wireless business it is increasingly focused on.

The FCC BDS docket now contains many letters filed in recent days from people identifying themselves as employees of Frontier and saying the same thing: “The Verizon/INCOMPAS proposal to slash our rates for business data services cuts to the heart of our ability to continue investing in America’s future.”

A quick survey found at least many dozens and perhaps several hundred of the letters with the same message.

The letters said that even with a compromise Frontier has proposed to transition smaller operators into a new rate-regulation regime, “excessive rate cuts will still result in lost jobs, lost investment, and a negative impact on our customers.”

Cable-operator ISPs, which are themselves new entrants in competition with incumbent carriers, share Frontier’s concern about the FCC deciding to regulate those it encouraged to compete with the incumbents. BDS services (previously termed special access) include carrying voice and data from cell towers (backhaul) to businesses and from ATMs and credit card readers. Wheeler has said that competition in BDS is essential to the rollout of 5G wireless service, an Obama administration priority.