VOL. 12, NO. 25
June 27, 2016

June 29, 2016 
1 p.m. ET

October 23-25, 2016

April 3-6, 2017
New Orleans

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) will host its Summer Committee Meetings at the Omni Nashville Hotel in Nashville, Tenn, July 24-27. 

INCOMPAS is planning to host a Competitors' Reception on July 23. Please note that the Competitors' Reception is not sponsored by NARUC, nor is it a part of the meeting agenda. 

If your company would like to sponsor the receptions, or you have questions, please email Karen Reidy or call 202-296-6650.



INCOMPAS and Verizon Expand BDS Compromise to Bring More Choice to Business Customers  
Building upon their April agreement, INCOMPAS and Verizon today sent a letter to the FCC expanding on their groundbreaking compromise. The proposal has the potential to end more than a decade of disagreement in the business data service (BDS) proceeding, and bring more choice to business customers.

After filing the letter, INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering said in a statement: ""The INCOMPAS-Verizon agreement sets a new path forward for competition, customers and the networks of the future. To help bring more choices, innovative service and lower prices to market faster, the INCOMPAS-Verizon agreement sets a policy framework that immediately helps all businesses customers, using a variety of speeds, obtain affordable service, and incentivizes all network builders to deploy new, advanced networks."

He also noted that the BDS proceeding is "critical to both America's wired and wireless infrastructure. Competition and connection are the key ingredients to deploying a 5G future, and helping all our businesses, schools, government buildings, hospitals and libraries grow."

Kathleen Grillo, Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel, public policy and government affairs, added "Today, Verizon and INCOMPAS issued a second joint letter building on the principles we proposed in April. Today's letter contains an outline that reflects a compromise proposal that can move the industry past its decades-long debate, relying first on competition to discipline prices, ensuring a rational pricing structure for business data services where necessary, and encouraging facilities-based competition as the marketplace continues its technology evolution. We look forward to continuing work on a final resolution."
FCC's Wheeler Discusses Future of 5G Wireless Networks
On June 20, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered a speech on the future of wireless, during which he talked about the build-out of 5G networks, and announced plans to take the steps necessary to allocate spectrum for, and ensure the connectivity of, 5G infrastructure.

During his speech, the Chairman noted that small cell sites will need to be connected, and it requires a lot more backhaul. "That's a challenge we're going to address through our proceeding on business data services [BDS], the kind of dedicated access that wireless providers need to connect cell towers and antennae to their networks," he said. "In many areas, however, competition in the supply of backhaul remains limited, and that can translate into higher prices for wireless networks and then higher prices for consumers. Lack of competition doesn't just hurt the deployment of wireless networks today, it threatens as well to delay the buildout of 5G networks with its demand for many, many more backhaul connections to many, many more antennae. Before the end of this year the Commission will take up a reform proposal - supported by the nation's leading wireless carriers, save one - that will encourage innovation and investment in business data services, while ensuring that lack of competition in some places cannot be used to hold 5G hostage."

In response to the Chairman's speech, INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering said in a statement: "For the U.S. to become the global leader in 5G, wireless backhaul will need to do what LeBron James did for the Cleveland Cavaliers and carry us to victory. Ending monopoly rents for this critical input service that have inflated prices and put competition on the bench is a critical first step for paving the way to rapid 5G deployment. As Chairman Wheeler pointed out today, backhaul currently represents up to 30 percent of wireless network costs and with 5G, that could increase to 50 percent of the cost of to operate a wireless network. Without meaningful BDS reform, 5G will be delayed and in some markets, blocked. U.S. 5G leadership depends on BDS [business data service] reform now."

Pickering added that the "FCC's resolution of the long delayed business data services proceeding will not only help 5G, it will bring affordability and choice to business customers, schools, hospitals and non-profit organizations. We want to thank Chairman Tom Wheeler for highlighting the critical role that competition and backhaul will play in 5G deployment, and we look forward to working with the entire FCC on solutions that encourage competition and innovation."
Cable Exec Says Overcharges Are Result of Set-Top Box
On June 23, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing on Customer Service and Billing Practices in the Cable and Satellite Television Industry. During the hearing, a representative from Time Warner Cable indicated that many customer overcharges are the result of swapping the set-top boxes the cable company forces customers to rent.

In response to the hearing, INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering said in a statement that "cable customers have been overbilled and held hostage by practices that can only exist in a marketplace devoid of real consumer choice and competition. Where we have competition, consumers have lower prices, faster speeds and better service. The admission today by a cable executive in the Senate Oversight and Investigation hearing, that many customer overcharges are the result of swapping customers set-top boxes they force them to rent, is just the latest indication that the FCC must act to unlock the box and set consumers free."

He noted that the "cable industry has said it will take them a decade to correct their customer service problems, an unacceptable amount of time that should prompt Congress and local agencies to act on a deployment agenda that will bring more competition. Including common sense policies like dig once, one touch/make ready to spur deployments, and fair, common sense programming pricing that doesn't discriminate against smaller, new entrants to the broadband market who must offer video to compete against big cable." 
FCC to Address Spectrum and Tech Transitions at July Meeting
The FCC announced its tentative agenda for the July Open Commission Meeting:
  • Spectrum Frontiers - The Commission will consider a Report and Order and FNPRM that would make spectrum in bands above 24 GHz available for flexible use wireless services, including for next-generation, or 5G, networks and technologies.
  • Advancing Technology Transitions - The Commission will consider a Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order, and Order on Reconsideration that adopts a framework to guide transitions to next-generation communications technologies while protecting the interests of consumers and competition. 

The Open Meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. July 14 at FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

UNITEL to Host June 29 Webinar on Workers Compensation and How To Lower Costs
UNITEL Insurance, an INCOMPAS partner and one of the leading communication insurance brokers in the U.S., is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, June 29 at 1 p.m. ET, about workers compensation and employment-related practices. 

During the webinar entitled "Workers Compensation and How to Lower Costs," UNITEL experts will discuss ways to help you lower your workers' compensation premiums, and  explain how workers' compensation works and why communication is so vital when an employee gets hurt. This webinar will help you learn things you never knew about work comp and save you money. 

Senate Subcommittee Hearing Focuses on FirstNet
On June 21, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, convened a hearing titled, "FirstNet Oversight: An Update on the Status of the Public Safety Broadband Network."

For information on witnesses and video of the hearing, visit the subcommittee website.