FCC Confirms Rules for Price Cap BDS, Adds UNE Transport Forbearance

The FCC released an Order on Price-Cap carriers’ business data service (BDS) rules late last week which extends some of these rules to DS1 and DS3 unbundled network element (UNE) transport. These rules only apply to Price Cap carriers and do not impact rate-of-return carriers that have selected both A-CAM and BDS.

This order was in response to a partial remand of the original Price Cap BDS order by the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The FCC confirmed its original Price Cap BDS order, which eliminated ex ante price regulation on all packet-based services and de-tariffed DS1 and DS3 transport in competitive areas. Price Cap carriers, including rural CLECs, have a three-year transition period to de-tariff the BDS services. However, CLECs must de-tariff BDS services in all areas. The completion date for this transition, after the remand, remains August 1, 2020.

In addition, the FCC determined that DS1 and DS3 interoffice transport UNEs are similar to the BDS transport and should be treated the same. The FCC granted forbearance from unbundling of DS1 and DS3 interoffice transport when one of the end points is within 360 feet of a competitive fiber provider.

Some impact of the Price Cap BDS order are already being felt by rural CLECs. Some Price Cap carriers have increased their BDS tariff rates as they prepare to de-tariff. This order will allow that process to continue. The order further affects rural CLECs by forbearing on interoffice transport UNEs that may be used for Enhanced Extended UNE loops or just to obtain transport to various locations. Rural CLECs should watch for rate changes in services provided by the Price Cap carriers.

If you have any questions on this order, contact Valerie Wimer in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590.