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NCTA: Business Data Proposal Could Impair 5G

In a blog post Monday, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said that while FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has been stumping for 5G, the BDS proceeding could slow 5G, not speed it as the chairman has suggested.

"5G networks will rely on substantially more cell sites than prior generations of wireless service and, as a result, there will be a need for significant new fiber facilities to provide backhaul connecting these cell sites. The BDS Further Notice seeks comment on a number of proposals that could result in extensive new rate regulation of BDS services, including backhaul, resulting in less, not more, deployment of fiber," NCTA blogged in advance of filing its comments.

NCTA is, not surprisingly, not happy with the prospect of the FCC not deciding to potentially regulate the rates of competitive providers as though they were a threat to competition, rather than a spur. It called that puzzling, echoing the dissent by commissioner Ajit Pai to the March vote on the proposal. He likened it to Alice in Wonderland.

Related: Wheeler Proposes Tech-Neutral Special Access Approach

NCTA was particularly unhappy with Wheeler suggesting, in a speech on 5G last week, that the proposed regulation of rates was a way to keep 5G wireless from being held hostage. "The notion that wireless providers will be held 'hostage' by BDS providers is a pretty serious accusation," NCTA said, "but it isn’t remotely supported by the facts."

It said there was virtually nowhere in the country where cable backhaul service would not face competition from incumbent phone companies. "Given that there is no factual or theoretical reason to think that market forces will result in insufficient investment in fiber for 5G backhaul, regulation of the rates for such service can only have negative consequences," it said.

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.