1st Quarter 2018 Update from the Public Policy Committee
By Gary Bolton (ADTRAN), Chair of Committee
After arriving back home from our Fiber Broadband Association regional meeting in “Motown”, I can’t help but to be proud of our organization and the tremendously positive impact it has had on communities like Detroit. Rocket Fiber CEO, Mark Hudson kicked off the conference retelling their story.
Just a few short years ago, Mark and his co-founders were software engineers at Quicken Loans. After being inspired by Google in Kansas City, they put in an idea in the company’s suggestion box which resulted in a fact finding trip to the Fiber Broadband Association’s regional meeting in Kansas City. Leveraging the resources at the Fiber Broadband Association, Rocket Fiber was born and they have transformed downtown Detroit. While this success is largely due to the amazing people at Rocket Fiber and the visionary leadership at Quicken Loans, it exciting to hear the Fiber Broadband Association’s role at its inception and our continued role going into the future. It is incredibly exciting to see communities like Detroit leveraging fiber optic networks and our organization to transform their future. We are also very fortunate to have Mark as an active member of our policy committee.
Speaking of the policy, we are extremely pleased with our member engagement and the significant progress that the Fiber Broadband Association Public Policy Committee has achieved in 1Q18, building on our strong momentum from 2017. Below, you’ll find a quick update on our policy activity and key positions. We hold monthly policy calls and we welcome members to participate and contribute on our committee.
Public Policy Committee Mission
The Fiber Broadband Association Public Policy Committee seeks to advance the Association’s interest in accelerating the deployment of fiber to all Americans by selectively participating in government proceedings where the outcome will “move the needle” on all-fiber deployments and where we can get most efficiently use our resources.
The Fiber Broadband Association 1Q18 Public Policy Update
During the first quarter of 2018, the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) continued its work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lower barriers to broadband deployment.
FBA’s President, Heather Gold, along with Jennifer Wainwright of Kelley Drye & Warren, spent considerable time working with the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s Working Group developing a State Model Code. The Working Group adopted numerous recommendations, including the establishment of a “Network Support Infrastructure Register,” which would contain information about infrastructure needed for broadband deployment that providers could access. The Working Group also recommended for pole attachments “one-touch make-ready” (OTMR) and overlashing without an application. However, the Working Group adopted a proposal, to which FBA dissented that limit the ability of municipalities to undertake broadband builds. FBA also dissented from a proposal to force access to municipally-owned dark fiber. We doubt that that these recommendations will be used by states because of concerns we raised.
FBA also continued its engagement on facilitating access to poles owned by investor owned utilities and incumbent telephone companies. We expect the FCC will issue a decision on these issues in the near future. In the beginning of the year, FBA filed comments supporting the ability of existing attachers to overlash without filing an application. Various FBA members, including Cincinnati Bell and CTC Technology & Energy, were involved in shaping our comments. In addition, in a recent submission to the FCC, FBA urged the adoption of a series of policies to facilitate attachments, including: instituting a OTMR process; requiring pole owners to give attachers the option of joining in the survey to inspect poles to which they want to attach; and, providing attachers with the ability to undertake make-ready if existing attachers fail to do so. I should add that many FBA members, including Verizon and Google, strongly support OTMR.
CAF Reverse Auction
FBA additionally continued its involvement with the Connect America Fund Phase II reverse auction, which will award almost $2 billion to support broadband deployment in unserved areas of price cap incumbent telephone companies. Now that the FCC has adopted rules and procedures for the auction, FBA held a well-attended webinar where the FCC staff discussed the requirements for participating in auction, which will begin this July. Short Form applications were due by the end of March, and we should know shortly the level of interest of bidders that want to deploy all-fiber networks.
Finally, FBA continues to weigh-in to oppose state legislation that will restrict builds by municipalities. This has been a constant fight, and we applaud the work of many of our members and fellow associations that are engaged with us.
Again, we welcome members to join us on the Public Policy Committee and we will continue to work strategic advocacy in an effort to accelerate the deployment of fiber networks. Please feel free to reach out to myself, Heather, Tom or any member of the Public Policy Committee if you have any questions, concerns or wish to have further information.
Gary Bolton (ADTRAN)
Public Policy Committee Chair
Fiber Broadband Association Board of Directors