FCC’s latest gift to telcos could leave Americans with worse Internet access

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The Federal Communications Commission will vote Nov 16 on a plan that, according to Chairman Ajit Pai, will strip away regulations that prevent telcos from upgrading their networks. But in doing so, the Republican-controlled FCC plans to eliminate a requirement that telcos provide Americans with service at least as good as the old copper networks that provide phone service and DSL Internet. The requirement relates to phone service but has an impact on broadband because the two services use the same networks. As carriers like AT&T and Verizon turn off copper networks throughout much of the country, many people fear that the networks won't be replaced with fiber or something of similar quality. That's why the FCC in 2014 created a "functional test" for carriers that seek permission to abandon copper networks. In short, carriers have to prove that the replacement service is just as good and provides the same capabilities as what's being discontinued. Pai's proposal, titled "Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment," would eliminate the functional test, claiming that it "deterred and delayed carriers from upgrading their networks." But without the functional test, carriers could declare that an area is served with technology that's good enough as long as mobile service is available, consumer advocates say. Carriers wouldn't have to provide fiber, and they wouldn't even have to provide fixed wireless services, which beam signals to antennas on people's houses and provide a more stable connection than mobile service.


FCC’s latest gift to telcos could leave Americans with worse Internet access