Clyburn Calls for Release of BDS Competitive Counties List

Asks chairman what agency is trying to hide

Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn has called on FCC chair Ajit Pai to release the list of the counties the FCC is going to deem have competition for business broadband service and thus qualify for deregaltion of ILEC rates. The chairman has signaled that is not happening

Pai plans a vote at the April meeting on his proposal to deregulate rates in counties deemed to have competitive service for the business services -- ATMs, credit card readers, institutional hookups -- provided by incumbents telcos and competitors including cable.

Pai has released the text of the BDS reform, but was asked by some groups last week to also publish the list of counties ripe for deregulation.

Clyburn joined in that call Monday.

“Chairman Pai has been a champion of transparency," Clyburn said. "It is puzzling, then, why he will release the text of the item, but omit a key appendix listing which counties are deemed competitive, until the order is released. We have the information. It will become public when the Order is released. So why is it that the FCC has taken the position that it will vote on an order before the public gets to see exactly what the order does? Just what are we trying to hide?

“The FCC should release this list immediately," she added. "This is the only way the public can truly evaluate the practical effects of the FCC’s proposed actions. If for some reason, that is unknown to me at this time, we cannot release this list expeditiously, we should delay our vote on the proposed order until the public can see it ‘well in advance’ of a FCC vote.”

In contrast to the more regulatory proposal on BDS proposed by former FCC chair Tom Wheeler, and ultimately supported by Clyburn following an effort at a compromise with Pai that fell apart, Pai's approach to business data services reform is generally to deregulate the rates of incumbents on the argument that the marketplace is generally competitive -- and only regulate where there is a demonstrated lack of competition.

“Commissioner Clyburn’s entire statement is based on a false premise; there is no such ‘appendix’ to the item," said a spokesman for Pai. "Moreover, it has been explained to Commissioner Clyburn’s office that publicly releasing the internal work product she is discussing at this point, which is not part of the order, would violate the Trade Secrets Act.  Finally, it is odd that Commissioner Clyburn had no problem voting on meeting items for over four years when the text of those items had not been made public. But now, she is calling for delay because information that is not part of a meeting item has not been made public.”