FCC moves to abandon rural telephone
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FCC moves to abandon rural telephone

Posted November 14th, 2017 by seanm

Access Humboldt joins opposition to FCC's move to push early retirement of copper telephone networks

Along with a broad range of consumer, rural, elderly, labor, civil and human rights, and low-
income organizations, Access Humboldt joined a letter to Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai expressing concerns about his proposal for early retirement of legacy copper telephone networks serving large swaths of rural territory, including much of Humboldt County and the North Coast region.

Access Humboldt's executive director Sean McLaughlin said: "We join this effort to ensure that rural communities are not relegated to second class status in the digital future. Reasonable consumer protections are necessary to ensure that profit seeking corporations deliver reliable, robust and resilient telecom services to every community. We have a long history and a legacy social contract that has paid these private corporations a pretty sum to meet local needs and interests - having collected those funds, profiteers now seek to renege on their obligations as 'carriers of last resort.'"

The group's letter (online here https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/11090039324560/Joint%20Wireline%20Broadband... and attached below) notes that: "Contrary to the proceeding’s stated purpose, the radical rule changes in the draft Report and Order will make it more difficult to achieve the very goals the Commission aims to achieve."

While the FCC's proposal has a great sounding title: "Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment," [WC Docket No. 17-84], the draft Report and Order would actually:
- Eliminate direct notice to retail customers of copper retirement;
- Reduce notice requirement to competitive carriers of network changes;
- Allow "de facto" copper retirement; and,
- Downgrade the definition of service to a community.

According to the letter: "This means the Commission’s remaining notice requirements will only apply to basic services, but will not include 911 services, ensure network reliability, or interconnection with devices consumers use such as medical monitors, alarm systems, fax and credit card machines, and equipment for people who are hearing impaired."

The letter further notes: "Without the Functional Test, carriers could deploy low-quality replacement networks that do not meet the needs of a community. This will particularly hurt rural and low-income communities where it is historically more expensive to deploy."

For more information contact Sean McLaughlin via e-mail: sean@accesshumboldt.net or cell: 707-616-2381.

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Access Humboldt is a non-profit, community media organization serving the residents and local jurisdictions of Humboldt County on the North Coast, managing resources that include: cable access TV channels; KZZH FM 96.7 community radio; a wide area broadband network with dedicated optic fiber connections to twenty locations serving local jurisdictions and community anchor institutions; broadband access wireless networks; a Community Media Center with studio and other production equipment and training on the Eureka High School campus; and ongoing operational support for public, educational and governmental access media services.

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