Dems ask FCC to postpone vote on business data reforms


Democratic lawmakers are asking the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to delay a vote on his proposal to reform the market for business data services.

Business data services (BDS) refer to the high-speed data lines that hospitals, schools and companies use to transmit information quickly, connecting, for example, ATMs and cell towers.

The FCC has set price caps for these services, but Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is moving to remove those caps and other regulations. Pai says his moves will promote competition.

But Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications, voiced their concerns in a letter to Pai on Tuesday.

{mosads}“In the BDS market, we need more protections for competitors and small businesses, not great market control by incumbents,” they wrote.

“We are concerned that the proposed BDS Report and Order does not adequately promote competition or apply appropriate pricing protections where competition does not exist.”

Pai’s predecessor, Tom Wheeler, had pushed for the lowering caps on data service prices to make them more affordable.

But Pai has dismissed that approach.

“Our goal should be ubiquitous competition, not universal rate regulation,” Pai wrote in a blog post criticizing Wheeler’s plan. “Our guide should be the data — wherever it leads us — not an ideological drive to regulate.”

The telecommunications industry, which provides business data lines, is staunchly in Pai’s corner.

In a post today, AT&T backed Pai, writing, “applying this sensible market test proposed by the FCC will ensure that the BDS marketplace will continue to flourish in areas where competition has taken hold and that existing controls remain in place where the Commission determines that competition is still needed.”

Earlier Tuesday, three Republican lawmakers also urged Pai to slow his plans, arguing that a “reasonable transition period” is needed to ensure businesses can handle any potential price hikes.

A vote on Pai’s proposal is set to take place at the monthly FCC open meeting this Thursday.

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