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SHLB Coalition Has Issues With FCC's BDS Approach

The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition has launched a campaign trying to get the FCC to reverse course on its new approach to business data services (BDS), saying with that approach "our kids will suffer from buffer brains rather than developing into the next-generation of entrepreneurs and leaders."

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was initially going to impose rate regs on both the ethernet BDS service used by new competitive entrants like cable ISPs and the traditional TDM (time-division multiplexing)-based service provided by the incumbent telcos, but he subsequently switched to a case-by-case, market-by-market, complaint-driven approach to ethernet service price regs. Wheeler pointed to a balance between targeted regulation for legacy services—where evidence of market power is strongest—and lighter-touch regulation of packet-based services (cable ISPs, for example), where there has been new entry and competition may be emerging.

SHLB doesn't see it that way. It wants the FCC to regulate both TDM and ethernet below 50 Mbps in an "equivalent manner," saying not to do so excludes schools and libraries from the BDS revamp.

The campaign, which launched with a YouTube video and press conference Thursday, is called #NoBufferBrains, and it wants the FCC to make "emergency improvements" to the proposal. "Emergency" because Wheeler has scheduled a vote on the latest BDS proposal for the Nov. 17 public meeting after originally circulating it for a vote outside a public meeting.

"Originally, the FCC promised a technology-neutral approach that would have benefited anchor institutions by lowering their costs, providing more choices, and encouraging deployment and availability of high-speed internet connections," said the group. "But at the last minute, the proposal was weakened to focus only on older technologies, or TDM lines, and pass on providing price relief for Ethernet customers."

Cable ethernet providers don't like either of the FCC's approaches, saying it did not make sense to regulate new entrants after encouraging them to enter the market.