FCC Seeks Comment on the Business Broadband Marketplace

September 16, 2010

On September 15, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a Public Notice that seeks to improve its understanding of business broadband needs, carrying out a recommendation made in the National Broadband Plan. The Public Notice is part of the FCC’s broader small business broadband agenda, which includes connecting communities to broadband through the Universal Service Fund, promoting mobile connectivity by unleashing more spectrum, and, in partnership with the Small Business Administration, training small businesses to use digital tools to reach wider markets and improve their operations. Comments are due October 15, 2010, and reply comments due November 4, 2010.

The Public Notice seeks input on a broad range of issues affecting the business broadband marketplace so that the FCC can identify the universe of business broadband service inputs, where they are available, and how they are used. Specifically, comment is sought on the following questions:

  • What transmission services, technologies, or types of facilities are used in the business broadband marketplace? What is the overall size of the business broadband marketplace today, in terms of revenues, demand, or other criteria?
  • Of the various possible combinations of services, technologies, and facilities, how prevalent are particular combinations in this marketplace today, in terms of revenues, demand, or other criteria? What explains this variation? For example, do variations arise from differences among customer types; differences in service features, bandwidth, or other technical characteristics; differences in price; or other factors?
  • What are the trends in the business broadband marketplace with respect to each of the categories or criteria identified in response to the prior questions?
    • Which combinations of services, technologies, and facilities are increasing or declining in prevalence or importance, and why? For example, are certain combinations more appropriate, available, or affordable for certain types of providers (e.g., mobile)?
    • What are the trends in pricing and technical characteristics for particular services, technologies, and facilities?
    • What is the likely impact of non-traditional marketplace participants and technologies, such as cable companies and wireless platforms?
    • What is the effect of the growth of new non-carrier wholesale customers, e.g., consumer electronics companies seeking to embed broadband in devices such as e-books or tablets, energy companies seeking to offer retail smart grid products, and so forth? Are the needs of these customers being adequately met?
  • The FCC also seeks comment on any other facts or issues that would aid in its understanding of the business broadband marketplace.

Notably, contrary to some parties’ expectations, the Notice does not propose or seek comment on any specific regulatory policy changes affecting broadband services or providers.

If you have questions regarding this matter or would like to submit comments in response to the Public Notice, please contact the following lawyers in our Telecommunications, Media & Technology Group:

Andrew D. Lipman, Partner, 202.373.6033

Russell M. Blau, Partner, 202.373.6035

This article was originally published by Bingham McCutchen LLP.