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INCOMPAS, which represents competitive carriers, wants the FCC to hold off on planned vote April 20 on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's business data services deregulation until it releases the list of counties it presumes have competition and can deregulate incumbent carrier rates.

INCOMPAS had asked the FCC last week to release the list before the vote, but said in a letter to the FCC Monday (April 10),  that it had been informed by FCC general counsel Brendan Carr that the FCC could not release the data until after the April 20 public meeting vote.

"I respectfully suggest that there is a different, and more orderly way to proceed here," wrote INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering.

"Rather than continue with a headlong rush to a vote on April 20, the Commission should take a pause, undertake the processes that it would otherwise implement after the vote in order to be able to publish its list of affected counties, and then provide a brief period for all affected entities to assess the impact of the Commission’s proposed actions," he said. "This will allow the Commission to act with full knowledge of its proposed actions – including the removal of protections against monopoly and duopoly pricing in areas that may be far from urban centers."

He said there was no rush to vote the item, and it could just as easily be put on the June, July or August meeting agenda.

"You have championed transparency, including sharing drafts of Commission orders prior to their adoption.  That is commendable.  I urge you to demonstrate further commitment to open and informed decisionmaking by taking the time to clear the publication of the list of affected counties and to provide the public a reasonable opportunity for review and comment prior to proceeding to a final vote," said Pickering.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had backed a BDS revamp proposal based on a compromise proposal from incumbent Verizon and INCOMPAS, which presumed there was insufficient competition generally and a need for continued rate regulation, evgen potentially on cable operator ISPs who the FCC had encouraged to get into the business. But Wheeler ran out of time in his tenure to vote the item. Pai's proposal instead presumes the marketplace is generally competitive, including counting duopolies as sufficient competition, and "nearby" competition as being a governor on prices.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn joined INCOMPAS Monday (April 10) in saying the information should be made available for the sake of transparency.

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.