If I started this explanation with the next paragraph – you probably wouldn’t read it. The reality is – this is pretty interesting stuff! Not only could you potentially be negatively impacted by what’s going on, you have an opportunity to make meaningful input that would prevent that. Please take a couple minutes – you are already here so read on…
When the Telecom Act of 1996 was put in place, it created a landscape that promoted competition by requiring the monopolies to share their network to competitive providers of telecom service. Some of the basic provisions were that the incumbent (CenturyLink in our case) would allow us to use the copper that goes to your home or business for a set fee. Hundreds, if not thousands, of local service providers nationwide were born under this basic agreement. As a result, the competitive environment created a natural ‘raising of the bar’ in the telecom industry when it comes to the speed and quality of service and level of customer service. The most impacting outcome – this was great for the consumer, they finally had a choice, and the choices got better and better over time.
Recently, the US Telecom Association, who represents companies like AT&T, CenturyLink, Bell South, etc, filed a petition with the FCC that requests the FCC essentially discard the majority of provisions contained in the 1996 Telecom Act. In other words, they want things to go back to the days where they were the monopoly and no longer share their network.
You might think “well it’s their wires so why should they have to share?” The fact is – you and I have helped pay for those wires and we continue to do so. Look for USF, OUS fees on your phone bill. Much of that money goes back to the incumbent. Even the USF and OUS fees that Gorge Networks collects ultimately goes back to the incumbent – not us. Over the years, the government has subsidized the incumbent to the tune of billions of dollars to help them build their networks. Recently, AT&T accepted another $2.56 billion in government subsidies, while CenturyLink took another $3 billion. So, is requiring them to share their network to create a competitive landscape reasonable? – you bet it is.
Why does this petition matter to you, the consumer? The simple answer is, competitive pressure drives quality up and price down and you are the benefactor of that. For example, something you may not know, Gorge Networks was the first to offer DSL in the Gorge – NOT United Telephone (the incumbent at the time). As we switched customers from dialup to DSL, the incumbent invested in their infrastructure to do the same. We continue to push each other to increase speed and reliability, and we are held accountable to provide quality customer service. Competition is good for the consumer!
Today we have accumulated a large enough customer base on our DSL platform to justify the cost of deploying fiber-to-the-home in some areas. Gorge Networks is the first provider in the Gorge to offer consumer grade Fiber-to-the-home with speeds up to 1Gig. Competition is good!
Without access to the copper wires we use for DSL – deploying fiber would not have been possible.
To bring it all home, this natural progression of improved telecom service due to a competitive landscape which includes the ability to access the copper wires of the incumbent, is now at risk.
When I went to Washington DC and spoke with Congressmen, the FCC, and the Small Business Administration, it was clear that there is concern shared by stakeholders on this issue over the possible negative impact of such a drastic move. Industry associations such as Incompas, and Fispa representing hundreds of competitive service providers have stepped up to raise awareness. The single most common response we are hearing is: “What do the consumers have to say about the impact?”
That is where you come in. Please take the time to tell the FCC that competition is good. In particular, tell them that Gorge Networks fills a need in telecommunication in our area (if that is the way you feel of course) and that you wouldn’t get the same speed, customer service, price (fill in the blank with whatever the facts are for you).
Dan Bubb President/CEO Gorge Networks.
P.S. I should mention, Gorge Networks will survive regardless of the outcome on this issue. The impact on Gorge Networks as a company would be that at some point in the future (1-3 years maybe), we would be limited on how and where we could offer DSL, which means it would take longer to build fiber networks in those DSL footprints, if it happened at all. Our current fiber and wireless internet access would remain unaffected.
Watch a simple short video to learn more here: https://www.bridge2broadband.org/
Gorge Networks is a member of Incompas – a trade association representing competitive carriers. Incompas and its members has been extremely active on this issue. For our position and formal FCC filings go here.
See other comments filed to the FCC by people like you by going here: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/filings?proceedings_name=18-141&sort=date_disseminated,DESC
Modify the text below and paste it into the comment form here
I am writing to you on behalf of [name of business]. [Describe in a sentence or two what your business does.] We are a Gorge Networks customer, and we urge you not to grant USTelecom’s petition.
[Describe what services you purchase from Gorge Networks and what you use them for. For broadband/data services, please include the speed level and whether the service is symmetric or asymmetric.]
[Describe why you choose to use Gorge Network’s services instead of CenturyLinks or another provider’s. Is it the speed? The price? The customer service? If what your business needs is not available from another provider like CenturyLink, please mention that.]
[Describe what would happen if you could no longer purchase service from Gorge Networks. Would your costs go up? Would you no longer be able to get the service you need from any provider? How would this affect your business?]
Please do not end the ability of providers like Gorge Networks to offer an alternative to the incumbent providers.