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Notice, Request for Comments on Deployment of Broadband Networks and Advanced Telecommunications

Docket Number
Docket No. 011109273-1273-01
[Federal Register: November 19, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 223)]
[Page 57941-57942]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket No. 011109273-1273-01]
RIN 0660-XX13

Notice, Request for Comments on Deployment of Broadband Networks 
and Advanced Telecommunications

AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
U.S. Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Request For Comments on Deployment of Broadband Networks and 
Advanced Telecommunications Services.


SUMMARY: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration 
(NTIA) invites interested parties to comment on broadband deployment in 
the United States. NTIA invites the public to submit comments on 
several issues including: supply and demand for broadband services; and 
the technical, economic, or regulatory barriers to broadband 
deployment. Comments should be submitted on paper and, where possible, 
in electronic form as well. All comments submitted in response to this 
Notice will be posted on the NTIA Web site.

DATES: Interested parties are invited to submit comments no later than 
December 14, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be mailed to Josephine Scarlett, Office of the 
Chief Counsel, National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration, Room 4713 HCHB, 1401 Constitution Ave., NW., 
Washington, DC 20230. Parties should submit an original and five (5) 
copies. Where possible, parties should include a diskette in ASCII, 
WordPerfect (please specify version) or Microsoft Word (please specify 
version) format. Diskettes should be labeled with the name and 
organizational affiliation of the filer, and the name version of the 
word processing program used to create the document. In the alternative 
to a diskette, comments may be submitted electronically to the 
following electronic mail address: Comments 
submitted via electronic mail also should be submitted in one or more 
of the formats specified above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josephine Scarlett, Office of the 
Chief Counsel, telephone: (202) 482-1816. Media inquiries should be 
directed to the Office of Public Affairs, National Telecommunications 
and Information Administration, at (202) 482-7002.


I. Background

    NTIA is the executive branch agency responsible for developing and 
articulating domestic and international telecommunications policy. NTIA 
is the principal advisor to the President on telecommunications 
policies pertaining to the Nation's economic and technological 
advancement and to the regulation of the telecommunications industry.
    On October 12, 2001, NTIA held informal discussions with the public 
and telecommunications companies to gather information about the status 
of broadband deployment in the United States. The participants 
discussed cable open access, broadband deployment in underserved rural 
areas, demand and supply for advanced services, technical and economic 
roadblocks to broadband deployment, and regulatory methods for 
stimulating supply and demand.
    The request for comment is a part of NTIA's ongoing effort to 
obtain more information about broadband issues. Information submitted 
in response to this Notice will be used to assist the Administration in 
developing a domestic telecommunications policy and to continue NTIA's 
support for removing obstacles to broadband deployment.
    NTIA seeks comment on the following specific questions. Parties are 
requested to respond to the questions about which they have particular 
knowledge or information.

II. Questions

    A. What should be the primary policy considerations in formulating 
broadband policy for the country? Please discuss the relative 
importance of the following: access for all; facilities-based 
competition; minimal regulation; technological neutrality; intramodal 
competition; intermodal competition; and any other policy 
    B. How should broadband services be defined? Please discuss (1) 
what criteria should be used to determine whether a facility or service 
has sufficient transmission capacity to be classified as ``broadband;'' 
(2) how the definition should evolve over time; and (3) the policy 
implications of how the term is defined.
    C. Several studies indicate that the rate of deployment of 
broadband services is equal to or greater than the deployment rates for 
other technologies. What is the current status of (1) supply and (2) 
demand of broadband services in the United States? When addressing 
supply, please discuss current deployment rates and any regulatory 
policies impeding supply. When addressing demand, please discuss both 
actual take rates and any evidence of unserved demand. Please also 
address potential underlying causes of low subscribership rates, such 
as current economic conditions, price, cost-structure, impediments to 
the development of broadband content, or any other factor. To what 
extent has the growth in competition for broadband and other services 
been slowed by the existing rates and rate structures for regulated 
telecommunications services?
    D. Should government adopt as a goal ``access for all'' to 
broadband service? What would be the costs of such a goal? What policy 
initiatives, if any, should be considered to achieve that goal? Are 
there areas or persons that are unlikely to be served through 
marketplace forces?

[[Page 57942]]

    E. Do the interconnection, unbundling, and resale requirements of 
the Telecommunications Act of 1996 reduce incumbent local exchange 
carriers' (ILECs') incentives to invest in broadband facilities and 
    1. Are their investment disincentives attributable to the regulated 
rates for interconnection, unbundled network elements, and resold 
    2. To what extent are those disincentives due to ILECs' 
uncertainties about their ability to recover the added network costs 
needed to accommodate potential requests from competitors? What are the 
magnitude of those additional costs? What mechanisms could be used to 
share the risks of those costs efficiently and equitably among ILECs, 
competitors, or users?
    3. To what extent are the returns on ILECs' investments in new 
infrastructure uncertain? Is the uncertainty of gaining an adequate 
return on each infrastructure improvement (attributable in part to 
other firms' ability to use those facilities to offer competing 
services) significant enough to deter investment?
    4. What are the principal strengths and weaknesses of the FCC's 
total element long run incremental cost (TELRIC) \1\ methodology? What 
changes could be made to render TELRIC an effective deterrent to the 
exercise of market power and conducive to efficient infrastructure 
investment? Would it be possible to construct an alternative 
methodology that would not depend on cost information controlled by 
regulated firms?

    \1\ TELRIC is a method of determining the cost of telephone 
service based on the forward-looking, incremental cost of equipment 
and labor without taking into account the historical, or embedded 
cost. The pricing method is based on a hypothetical network using 
the most efficient technology available. See 47 CFR 51.503, 51.505 
(1997); In Re Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions in 
the Telecommunications Act of 1996, CC Docket Nos. 96-98 and 95-185, 
11 FCC Rcd 15499 (1996), vacated, 120 F.3d 753 (8th Cir. 1997), 
remanded, 219 F.3d 744 (8th Cir. 2000), cert. granted, General 
Comm., Inc. v. Iowa Util. Bd., 121 S.Ct. 879 (2001).

    F. Some have suggested that a regulatory dividing line should be 
drawn between legacy ``non-broadband'' facilities and/or services and 
new ``broadband'' facilities and/or services. Is this a feasible 
approach? If so, how would it work?
    1. What effects would changes in the regulatory structure for 
broadband services and facilities have on regulation and competition 
with respect to voice telephone and other non-broadband services?
    2. If ILECs deploy broadband services using a mixture of new and 
old facilities, will competitors be able to use the older shared 
facilities that they previously had access to?
    3. If ILECs deploy broadband facilities to replace portions of 
their existing copper plant, will the displaced copper plant give 
competitors a viable opportunity to offer alternative services? What 
would be the annual costs to the ILEC (or to a purchaser of the 
displaced copper plant) of a continuing obligation to maintain that 
    4. What regulations, if any, should apply to new broadband 
facilities and/or services to ensure a competitive marketplace?
    G. To what extent have competitive firms deployed their own (a) 
transport, (b) switching, and (c) loop facilities? Are those 
investments limited to particular areas of the country or to particular 
portions of communities and metropolitan areas? What market 
characteristics must exist for competitors to make facilities-based 
investments? Do competitors have the ability to deploy their facilities 
in ways that minimize costs and facilitate efficient network design?
    H. What cable companies are currently conducting trials to evaluate 
giving multiple Internet service providers access to broadband cable 
modem services? Describe the terms and conditions of ISP access in such 
trials. What technical, administrative, and operational considerations 
must be addressed to accommodate multiple ISP access? How can cable 
firms manage the increased traffic load on their shared distribution 
systems caused by multiple ISPs?
    I. What problems have companies experienced in deploying broadband 
services via wireless and satellite? What regulatory changes would 
facilitate further growth in such services? Is available spectrum 
adequate or inadequate? What additional spectrum allocations, if any, 
are needed?
    J. How should the broadband product market be defined? What policy 
initiatives would best promote intramodal and intermodal broadband 
    K. Would it be appropriate to establish a single regulatory regime 
for all broadband services? Are there differences in particular 
broadband network architectures (e.g., differences between cable 
television networks and traditional telephone networks) that warrant 
regulatory differences? What would be the essential elements of a 
unified broadband regulatory regime?
    L. Are there local issues affecting broadband deployment that 
should be addressed by federal policies? Please provide specific 
information or examples regarding these problems. Should fees for 
rights of way and street access reflect costs in addition to the direct 
administrative costs to the municipalities affected? To what extent do 
state laws and regulations limit municipalities' ability to establish 
nondiscriminatory charges for carriers' use of public rights-of-way? 
Please discuss the most appropriate relationship between federal, 
state, and local governments to ensure minimal regulation while 
removing disincentives or barriers to broadband deployment.
    M. Are there impediments to federal lands and buildings that thwart 
broadband deployment? Please provide specific data. What changes, if 
any, may be necessary to give service providers greater access to 
federal property?
    N. With respect to any proposed regulatory changes suggested in 
response to the above questions, can those changes be made under 
existing authority or is legislation required?

Nancy J. Victory,
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information.
[FR Doc. 01-28784 Filed 11-16-01; 8:45 am]

November 19, 2001